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Early Review: The Billionaire Beast by Jackie Ashenden

Feb 21, 2017



Nero de Santis: Damaged. Bastard. Beast.


      Nero hasn’t left his house in ten years. He demands the world come to him, and the world is only too happy to bend to the strong-willed billionaire.


     Ruthless, cold, and selfish, Nero wants for nothing and takes care of no one but himself. His last handful of assistants have left his house in tears, but the prim redhead applying for the job looks up to the task. Nero has spent his life shut within the walls he built, with no care to have more than a window to the outside world. But the fiery passion he senses beneath his reserved assistant’s exterior makes him want to break down the barriers he lives behind, and unleash the beast within.


    Phoebe Taylor: Uptight. Misunderstood. Engaged.


     Phoebe needs the obscene amount of money that comes with being Nero’s personal assistant for one thing, and one thing only—to pay for the mounting hospital costs that her fiancee’s two-year coma continues to incur. She’s heard rumors that the de Santis beast is a force that cannot be tamed—but even she isn’t prepared to handle the smoldering intensity simmering beneath his hard shell of feral dominance.


      Nero is hiding something, something he is fighting with every step he takes. Yet he can’t help but stake his claim on this woman who has shaken up his life, and Phoebe can’t believe this animal of a man is the one person to ever look into her eyes and see her soul. Nero wants to keep her. He wants to devour her. And Phoebe just might let him.



4 STARS

 STAR

The Billionaire Beast by Jackie Ashenden ignites!  The sexy and  beastly Nero dominates the pages! Phoebe is the perfect match for this damaged and intense animal of a man.  Jackie delivers  a vivid romance with all the right notes.  Great ending!  The Billionaire Beast is sure to leave you wanting to read another fairytale from Ashenden. 







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Teaser


A loud sound echoed around the room, as if someone had thrown open her bedroom door with such force it had smacked into the wall, and she woke up for real this time.  And there were no black eyes looking down at her. No hands on her body. Only the canopy of the ridiculous four poster bed she slept in.
She had been dreaming. Thank God, thank God, thank God.
Her heart thundered in her ears, her breathing fast and hard. Her sheets were damp and sticking to her, and she felt hot. Too hot. And restless and…other things.
Heaving in a breath, the effects of the dream pumping through her body, she pushed herself groggily upright, clutching at the sheet and squinting toward the doorway to see what the hell was happening.
Someone had, indeed, thrown open her bedroom door and now that someone was standing in the doorway, taking up most of it.
Someone very large.
A thrill of primitive fear bolted down her spine, her brain trying to make sense of the looming shape, still muzzy with sleep and the last shreds of the disturbing dream.
Definitely a man. Very tall, with massively broad shoulders.
Nero.
She knew the security he had in his house, no-one else would get past it unless he himself let them. Which meant that of course it was him. And that should have made her feel better, but it didn’t. If anything, it only made that primitive jolt of fear become an earthquake.
Her mouth burned, her heartbeat getting faster, the memory of the kiss he’d given her echoing through her entire body. Hot. Desperate. Shattering.
She’d never been kissed like that before, not without her permission. Not without being asked. Charles had asked before he’d kissed her that first time, his blue eyes full of gentle desire and hope. And it had been light and tentative and she’d been utterly charmed by it.
Nero’s kiss had not been charming. It had not been light or tentative. There had been no gentle desire in it, no desperate hope. He’d taken that kiss whether she’d wanted to give it to him or not, and he’d been ruthless. Pushing down her bottom lip with his thumb, his tongue sliding deep into her mouth, one hand hard on the back of her neck, the other hard on her chin. Keeping her in place, holding her there. Making her take it. Taking without permission like he hadn’t heard what she’d told him that he needed to respect her choice.
But that wasn’t the worst thing. No, the worst thing was how something inside her had just…erupted like a volcano exploding. A wild, primitive, out of control part of her that she’d had no idea was even there.
A part that didn’t care about the fact that she was engaged, that her fiancé was lying in a hospital bed in a coma. A part that didn’t care that she was in love with one man while being kissed by another. A part that just didn’t care about anything but itself.
That part wanted Nero’s kiss. It was desperate to be touched, to be stroked. It was so hungry for connection, it ached. And it knew that here, at last, was someone who could give it the connection it wanted, the touch it desperately craved. And it just didn’t care about anything but that.
It terrified and excited her in equal measure.
She’d run from the room, thinking of nothing but putting distance between her and Nero. The taste of him was in her mouth, hot and alcoholic and delicious, and she knew that if she stopped running, she might very well turn around and go back into the library for more. So she didn’t stop running until she’d gotten to her room, where she’d locked the door then turned on the shower, switching it to cold.  And she’d stood under the icy spray until her teeth had begun to chatter and the heat inside her had cooled. Then she’d gotten out, wrapped herself in her favorite dressing gown, and ordered the women Nero had wanted.
She didn’t think about that kiss again. Didn’t think about the fact that women he’d wanted were redheads. Didn’t think about that needy, aching part of her that was helplessly drawn to his intense, uninhibited masculine sexuality.
 She only picked up a book and lost herself in that instead. Then she’d gone to bed and dreamed…
Nero moved suddenly from the doorway, stalking toward her, loose limbed and predatory as a panther.
The fear inside her tightened and she grabbed quickly for the switch for the light on her nightstand, flicking it on.
Why on earth was he here? He should have been cozied up with the escorts she’d gotten for him, not coming to see her. Unless they weren’t suitable? Or maybe they hadn’t turned up? Or did he want something else?
You know what he wants.
Well, he was out of luck, wasn’t he? No matter what he threatened to do about Charles’s hospital care, she wasn’t sleeping with him. And if she lost her job because of it—
Her thoughts were cut off as light flooded the room, illuminating Nero’s rough, brutally handsome features. And her heart paused mid-beat at the expression on his face.
His eyes were glittering, his jaw tight and hard,  his lips curled back in an almost snarl. He looked absolutely and completely furious.
Phoebe clutched the sheet to her chest in an unconsciously protective gesture. “What’s wrong? It’s the middle of the night. Is there—”
“Explain something to me,” he demanded, low and rough, continuing to come toward her.
“Explain what?”
“Explain to me how I can have two beautiful women in my room.”  He rounded the bed, coming to over to her side, and, to her utter shock, sitting down on the edge, right next to her. Then before she could move, he put one hand on the mattress on either side of her hips and leaned over her, forcing her to lie back almost on the pillows to get away from him. “Two gorgeous, naked women,” he went on. “Who are desperate to please me. And yet, I don’t fucking want either of them.” There was fury in his gaze and something else she couldn’t quite read. “Explain that to me, Phoebe Taylor.”
She swallowed, her mouth gone dry. He was very, very close. Too close. His big, hard body leaning over her, radiating heat and that dark electricity that had goosebumps rising all over her skin. That made her shiver. That made her want things she’d never wanted before and couldn’t for the life of her understand why she wanted them now.
It was the dream. It had to be. That and two years of celibacy, though she hadn’t thought she’d be the type of woman who missed sex since, quite frankly, it wasn’t the be all and end all.
“I don’t know,” she said thickly. “I got you the women you told me to get. Those were the ones you said you wanted.”
His gaze was so full of heat and fury she almost couldn’t look at it. “And yet I don’t want them. I don’t want to touch them. I don’t want to fuck them. They’re naked, in my bed right now, and all I can fucking think about is you.”
Shock expanded slowly inside her, like an explosion in slow-motion.
He hadn’t come after her after that kiss in the library so she’d thought she’d been right in her initial assumption. That he didn’t want her, he wanted sex.
Apparently not.
“M-Me?” Her voice was stuttering and hesitant and faint, and she hated the sound of it. “I mean, I don’t know why—”
“Yes, you,” he cut her off, a dark, rough note in the words that was somehow thrilling, even though she didn’t want it to be. “They don’t look like you. They don’t sound like you. And when I kissed them, they didn’t taste like you. And that was all I could fucking think about.” His expression became even more intense, the look in his eyes sharp as blades. “What have you done to me, Phoebe? What the fuck have you done?”
She shrank back onto the pillow, her heartbeat out of control, a strange prickling sensation crawling over her. As if she’d passed too close to an electric field and the static was crackling over her skin.
She was afraid. Of him.
No, you’re not. You’re afraid of what he makes you feel.
“I haven’t done anything,” she forced out, trying to sound like her usual calm self and failing. “I can’t help it if you don’t want those women.”
Nero said nothing, staring at her with such intensity she began to feel like he was trying to ignite her with the power of his mind alone.
And the really terrible part was that it was working.
The dream glowed inside her, banked coals smoldering, ready to burst into flame at any moment, ready to burn…
No. She didn’t want Nero de Santis. Maybe she wanted to fix what was broken inside him, but she didn’t want him. Not this man sitting right next to her, leaning over her, the hot masculine scent of him surrounding her, overwhelming her. He was too much. Too big. Too demanding. Too arrogant. Too selfish.
Too exciting. Too challenging. Too sexy.
She almost shook her head. God, it didn’t matter how sexy or otherwise the man sitting next to her was, she was engaged to Charles. She loved Charles.
“I’ll up your salary,” Nero said roughly. “I’ll pay the hospital and you six figures per month.”
Her mind reeled. That was…insane.
But you’d never have to worry about Charles’s care ever again.
Oh, God. The anxiety of how to pay for the hospital bills that kept piling up, month after month as Charles’s condition stayed exactly the same, was never ending. What would it be like to not have that? To be free of it?
What would it be like to have Nero?
Her fingers twisted in the sheet. “And if I refuse?””
He bared his teeth in a snarl. “Don’t refuse.”
“So all that talk about respect. It meant nothing to you?”
“It would have meant something if you hadn’t kissed me like you wished it was my cock in your mouth not my tongue.” The words were rough-edged and brutal and he looked at her as if he wanted to eat her alive. “You want to talk about respect? Then how about you respect your own fucking desires.”
Electricity snaked down her spine, a white hot thrill. “I don’t have any desires,” she said desperately.
“Liar.” He raised his hand and jerked the sheet from her grasp, pulling it right off her.
A pathetic little cry of protest escaped her and she reached for the cotton, desperate to cover herself, but he grabbed both her wrists and held them in an iron grip.
She stilled, the breath shuddering in her throat, half terrified and half…No, no. She could not be turned on by this. She could not want this. Struggling to contain the thick, confusing knot of emotions inside her, she asked in what she hoped was a cool, calm voice, “What are you doing?”
He said nothing, merely holding her wrists, his gaze locked with hers.
The smoldering embers inside her began to glow, like the look in his eyes was a breath on hot coals, and it made the fear inside her clench tight. Because she didn’t want these feelings. She didn’t want to want him. There was another man she wanted, another man she loved.
He never made you feel like this though.
Without a word, Nero brought her wrists together and transferred them to one large, strong hand, holding on tightly. Then with his free hand he reached down to the long, lacy white nightgown she wore and slid his fingers beneath the hem.


Copyright © 2017 by Jackie Ashenden and reprinted by permission of Swerve.








Publisher: St. Martin's Press - Swerve
Pub Date: Mar. 7, 2017

This Title was Accepted via






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