GUEST AUTHOR & GIVEAWAY: Silhouette Desire Romance Writer, Tessa Radley

Today our guest is romance writer, Tessa Radley, author of Silhouette Desire Romance Novels. I'm delighted to share with you here latest book, Millionaire Under the Mistletoe. (Read the review of Millionaire Under the Mistletoe here!) It's just the ticket to curl up in front of a flickering warm fire with during these long, cold winter nights, and very festive! (Well, that's if you are on the same hemisphere as me!)

To go with this guest post, Tessa has generously supplied TWO paperback copies of her previous release Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain to give away as a prize to two lucky commenters. Thank you! Find out more about Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain here. This giveaway is open to UK/International - closes Wednesday 6th January 2010. (Same rules as yesterday's giveaway!)
  1. To enter - please follow the AR blog (publicly) 
  2. Leave a comment for the author here. 
  3. Make sure you also leave your email address too.

x2 copies available to win!

That's it. Thank you for visiting. Good luck! As usual you may Tweet, Digg ,sign the AR Guest book! etc, just come back here to let me know you have - for extra entries. So, thanks again, Tessa, for joining us here at AR. Over to you! 

Chocolate or Christmas Cake?

Some books are like chocolate—decadent and delicious. Some are like lemon sorbet—crisp and refreshing. Then there are the comfort reads that I liken to home-made cottage pie on an icy winter.

There are all the flavors of the rainbow available.

And yes, often we prefer one flavor over another. And sometimes it's just the mood we're in that dictates what we want. Other time we may follow a friend's recommendation—we may love it or hate it…

Right now, I'm in the mood for Christmas flavored books. Not surprising given that I loaded my shopping trolley up with mince tarts and rich, moist Christmas cake!

What flavor are you in the mood for?

And if you've got any Christmas-themed books on your Christmas stocking list…please share.

Have a Wonderful Festive Season!


Tessa Radley’s December 2009 Silhouette Desire release, Millionaire Under The Mistletoe, pits a struggling chef against a powerful millionaire. Read more about it here

Millionaire Under the Mistletoe - Tessa Radley's latest release.


Callum Ironstone didn't do guilt. Even so, the millionaire did feel responsible enough for struggling chef Miranda Owen to offer her a job. She could cater his holiday dinner party…an important affair where he planned to propose to the appropriate woman. Except somehow he'd ended up with Miranda in his bed.
He tried to blame it on the mistletoe. But Callum knew Miranda's transformation from dowdy wallflower to sensual beauty had hit him right where it counted. Perhaps she could be made into the hostess his position demanded…provided Miranda forgave him for destroying her family.


Callum halted at the threshold, his attention riveted on the woman pacing in front of the reception desk. The slanting rays from a lofty skylight caught her hair and turned it into a nimbus of glowing gold.

He took a step forward.

"Callum Ironstone demanded my presence here at three o'clock." She cocked her wrist and glanced at a serviceable watch. "It's already ten past. How much longer does he intend to keep me cooling my heels?" Her husky voice held an edge of impatience.

Callum stilled as her words penetrated. This was Miranda Owen?

Not possible.

His gaze tracked up from slender ankles encased in sheer black hose along the sleek lines of the narrow black, hip-hugging skirt. A black polo-neck sweater emphasized the indent of her waist and a saffron-colored coat hung over her arm.

Callum stared.

Digging deep into his memories produced an image of a plump teenager, more at home in a baggy sweatshirt, jeans and muddied yellow Wellingtons. The sunlit locks held no resemblance to the long, untidy ponytail. No doubt the braces were gone, too.

He cleared his throat.

She spun around. Wide caramel-brown eyes met his. His stomach tightened as he took in the lambent hostility.

One thing hadn't changed. Miranda Owen still blamed him for her father's death.

Callum didn't let the knowledge show as he crossed the marble tiles, toasty from the state-of-the-art under-floor heating system. "Miranda, thank you for coming in."


That one snapped-out word hinted at long-held resentments.

He stretched out a hand. For a moment he thought she was going to refuse to take it. Then with a small sigh she relented.

Her fingers were strong, her grip firm, yet her skin was soft against his. Before he could come to terms with the interesting dichotomy of her touch, she pulled away.

"Why did you want to see me?"

A woman who got straight to the point—he liked that. Callum shook himself free of the bemusement that this grown-up Miranda evoked. "Let's talk in my office. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

A picture flickered across his mind of a three-year-younger Miranda spooning several teaspoons of sugar into a cup of hot chocolate at her father's funeral.

"No, thanks." Her reply was clipped.

He glanced across to the receptionist. "Bring Ms. Owen a hot chocolate and I'll have coffee. Bring some extra sugar," he tacked on before placing his hand under Miranda's elbow and steering her along the corridor and into his spacious office.

"I'm not a child." She slanted him a look from beneath ridiculously long lashes, and a frisson of awareness startled Callum. "And I no longer drink chocolate."

"I can see you're not a child," Callum drawled, giving her a slow, sweeping perusal. "You've changed."

"You haven't." Miranda broke free of his hold and stepped away.

Still truculent. The heat of desire receded. "Maybe I'm mistaken," he mused. "I'd gotten the notion you'd grown up."

Chagrin filled her face. "I'm sorry."

Callum doubted she regretted her lack of courtesy. Yet when her gaze met his again, he read apprehension in the wide eyes. What was she frightened about? Even as he watched, she straightened her spine and the moment of vulnerability vanished.

He waved to the two boxy leather sofas facing each other under an immense wooden bookshelf packed with books. A tall Christmas tree covered with red bows and silver balls reminded Callum that it was the season of reconciliation. But Miranda's frozen face warned him that reconciliation was the last thing on her mind. And how could he blame her? Feeling carefully for words, he said, "Look, let's start over."

Ignoring him, Miranda passed the cozy seating arrangement heading for a round walnut conference table beside a wall of glass, where she slung her coat and black bag over the closest of the four chairs in a militant fashion.

Okay, so she was going to play this tough, all business. Callum gave a mental shrug and seated himself opposite her. "I asked you to come in because I have a proposition for you."

"A proposition?" Confusion clouded her features. "For me?"

He rocked his chair back. "You're a chef, right?" Hell, he knew she was—he'd paid for every cent of her exclusive training. Though he'd been surprised to learn she'd used her qualifications to gain employment at a popular pub chain rather than some fashionable, upmarket cafĂ© or boutique hotel. Before she could question how he knew she was a chef, he added, "Adrian told me you work at one of The Golden Goose outlets."

He'd stopped to inquire how young Adrian was getting along as a temporary driver for the company. The young man had been grateful for the vacation job and had revealed that Miranda dreamed of one day starting her own catering business. That had given Callum the perfect solution… a way to wipe Miranda Owen from his conscience forever. He gave her his most charming grin.

"Yes," she said guardedly.

She certainly wasn't blowing him away with an effusive response. Tipping his chair back to earth, he leaned forward and planted his elbows on the conference table. "Here's the deal. I plan to invite the outgoing chairman of a company Ironstone Insurance has recently taken over to a private dinner party at my home on Saturday night."

"He'll come?"

"Oh, yes. Gordon's staying on as a shareholder and I want to introduce him to the other directors. It's a celebration."

The melting brown eyes hardened. "I suppose that makes sense. Your brothers will want to get on side with a significant shareholder."

Callum stopped smiling. The merger had been his initiative—a successful one that would give Ironstone Insurance a strategic advantage over their competitors for years to come. And Gordon Harris had been even hungrier for the merger than the Ironstone family. Gordon wanted to retire, to take it easy. But Miranda's words stopped Callum from confessing that there was another, more celebratory reason for the dinner. That would only lead to a dig about protecting his assets.

Two fine lines furrowed her brow. "When you say Saturday…do you mean this week?" At his nod the lines deepened. "That doesn't leave much time."

He'd intended to railroad her into agreeing… and not leave any time for second thoughts.

"You don't think you can do it?" he challenged.

Angry fire kindled in the caramel eyes. "How many people?"

Hiding a grin of triumph, Callum rose to his feet and retrieved a manila folder from the polished expanse of his desk. Returning to the conference table, he dropped the file in front of her. "The details are all in there."

If he could start Miranda on the road to success, introduce her to some people, perhaps he'd be able to forget the hatred a pair of eighteen-year-old eyes had once held….

Or at least that had been the plan.

But having met Miranda again, he had a suspicion it wasn't going to be nearly that simple.

Standing behind her, all too conscious of the subtle fragrance of warm vanilla she exuded, Callum watched her elegant fingers flip the file open to the first page of the agreement his PA had prepared. Her shoulders stiffened as she read the figure he proposed to pay for a one-night job.

Satisfaction swept through him. She wouldn't refuse. His offer was too good. Helping Miranda get started in a business that must presently be nothing more than an impossible dream would be the perfect way to excise the disturbing memory of the wild accusations she'd flung at him.

You killed my father.

Of course he knew he hadn't, didn't he? Thomas Owen had killed himself once he realized there would be a trial—where he would almost certainly be found guilty on the overwhelming evidence against him. The courts showed no mercy against employees who stole from their employers. Thomas Owen would have known he was facing prison.

Yet Thomas's suicide had shaken Callum more than he cared to admit, leaving him haunted by a long shadow of guilt.

A legacy that he was determined to shake.

The black-and-white print on the paper in front of her blurred. Miranda was no longer aware of the maplewood furniture, or Callum's spacious office. Instead she experienced again the hot ball of misery that had burned constantly in her chest from the moment her father's PA had called with the news of her father's arrest.


But her father's assistant had insisted it was true: the police had been, and had taken her father away. Miranda needed to get hold of her mother urgently. Callum Ironstone would be issuing a press statement soon.

At barely eighteen, Miranda's first sighting of Callum Ironstone on television had swung rapidly from interest in the handsome devil with dark hair, a sensual mouth and eyes that held a mesmerizing intensity, to hatred when she'd heard what he had to say. The press statement had been brief but damning.

All of it lies. By the time it came to an end, Miranda was numb with disbelief.

There had been a mistake. Yet Callum Ironstone clearly didn't believe that. Rage had set in. Her father was not a thief.

Her father was granted bail, and emerged from the courthouse pale, shaken, but determined to clear his name. He had done nothing to justify the indignity the Ironstones had heaped upon him after two decades loyal service. Miranda had been confident it would all be sorted out.

But what followed had been traumatic. And, in the end, Thomas Owen simply gave up. Miranda could still remember the set, serious face of the policewoman who'd knocked on the door to break the news that her father was dead.

Then came the funeral. Miranda's hands grew clammy and nerves fluttered in her stomach at the memory of the last terrible occasion she'd seen Callum Ironstone— it still made her cringe. Devastated by her father's death, her white-hot hatred boiling over, she'd confronted him in the stone-walled forecourt of the church.

The men beside him moved to cut her off. But she barged past them. Standing in front of Callum, she inspected him with angry eyes. "How could you take a good man's life and destroy it?" she'd challenged.

His jaw had set, and his face had grown harder than the marble tombstones in the churchyard. "He stole money from me."

"So you decided to teach him a lesson and humiliate him?"

A flush seared his carved cheekbones.

A man who resembled Callum—a brother perhaps— stepped forward. "Wait a minute, young lady—"

She brushed him aside, focusing all her emotion on Callum. "You killed him. You know that?" Tears of rage and pain spilled onto her cheeks. "He worked for you for twenty years, you gave him a gold watch, yet you never gave him a chance?"

Her father had been given no opportunity to avow his innocence. Callum had relentlessly pushed the police to the conclusion he'd wanted.

"You're overwrought," he said dismissively.

That made the ball of anger swell inside her. "And what's going to happen to my mother, my brother?" Me? "Now that you've destroyed our family?"

Callum gave her a stony stare. He raised a dark, devilish eyebrow and asked sardonically, "Finished?"

She hadn't been. Not by a long shot. But before she could vent any more he'd cut her off, snapping "Grow up" in a supercilious, condescending way that made her feel childishly inadequate.

Callum's words had been unkindly prophetic. She'd had to grow up, and quickly. Much as Miranda loved her mother, she knew Flo could never be practical. Overnight Miranda had become the adult in the home. There'd been no choice.

And now that same man was trying offer her money. A bribe?


Miranda felt Callum Ironstone start as she spoke. The sensitive skin of her nape prickled. A moment later a pair of bright blue eyes glared down at her. She'd never noticed their color before.

"What do you mean ‘No'?"

Closing the folder with a snap, Miranda slammed it down against the glossy wood. "I mean I have no intention of accepting your blood money."

"Blood money?" he said softly, dangerously, and his gaze narrowed to an intimidating glitter.

She refused to be cowed. "Yes, blood money for what you did to my father."

"Your father stole from Ironstone Insurance."

Miranda shook her head. "You got the wrong man."

"Give me strength." Callum made a sharp, impatient sound. "You're not a child anymore."

"Stop it!" She put her hands over her ears.

Blue eyes bored into hers.

Feeling foolish, like the immature child he'd accused her of being almost three years ago, she uncovered her ears and dropped her hands out of his line of sight into her lap and curled them into fists.

With hard-won composure, Miranda said, "I'm sure being wealthy beyond belief means you've gotten used to throwing money around to make all your problems go away. But not this time. I won't take a cent."

His jaw had hardened. A shiver closely allied to fear feathered down her spine as he bit out, "Don't you think it's rather late for fine principles?"

Miranda stared at him blankly. "What do you mean?"

"You've conveniently forgotten?"

"Forgotten what?"

His lips compressed into an impatient line. "Taking money from me."

"That's a lie—I've never taken a cent from you." She'd die of starvation before she did that. 


Check out Tessa Radley's Website and her impressive backlist. The "Inside Story" by Sassy Brit and her Gang!
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  1. Loving the excerpt...

    Enter me please Sassy...

    Tessa lovely to see you in the holiday spirit... pity it's only once a year...

    As if we could survive any longer LOL


  2. Awww I think that first cover broke my heart! it is too cute :D

    Xmas, mmm, chocolate, ok I really need to stop thinking about white chocolate, I am clearly hooked.

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

    Yup I was there again, I looked at that cover. I honestly think it is the cutest I ahve ever seen

  3. I love reading Silhouettes !! And the cover of 'Millionaire Under the Mistletoe' is lovely ! while 'Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain' ones is totally cute !!!

    Please enter me, icejew at gmail dot com

    I have posted the contest on my sidebar

    I'm a follower.

    Thanks for the contest.

  4. I always enjoy your books. I look forward to reading this one. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season.
    I am a follower.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  5. EH, glad you liked the excerpt.

    I'm definitely getting into the festive spirit. Have picked out any must-reads to read over the holidays?


  6. Sassy, thanks so much for letting me come visit.

    I've been trying to get in to comment but my internet is so SLOOOOOOW. Must be all the kids on holiday hitting their bebo pages.

  7. Blodeuedd, thanks for stopping in. I think that cover is too cute too. I thought I was biased! But I've been very lucky with both covers, I think the art department did a fabulous job interpreting the pages of art fact sheets I submitted!

  8. Icejewel, I love reading Silhouettes too. Glad you loved both covers, me too! :-)

    And thanks for posting the contest.


  9. Linda, thank you! That's lovely of you to say.

    And it's great to see you here. What books are you looking forward to reading this Christmas?


  10. I just checked out the review and found my self grinning. I love emotional, but I'm not a reader who likes soppy either. I'm thrilled you enjoyed Millionaire Under The Mistletoe.


  11. Tessa,

    I love reading the Silhouette Desire books.

  12. I love the cover of Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain; it's so adorable.

    I am a follower.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 AT gmail DOT com

  13. I enjoy reading books with a little bit of mystery.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a sassy comment. It's truly appreciated. I aim to get back to you as soon as possible -- Sassy :)