Crime Royalty Romance # 1
By: Lesley Young
Released December 2, 2014
Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.
Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands.
Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.
Lesley Young is an award-winning Canadian journalist by day, and compulsive novelist by night. Her debut novel, Sky’s End (Soulmate Publishing, 2013) hit #9 on Amazon’s sci-fi romance paid best-seller list in its first three months of release. Not too long after that, she started dreaming up quirky heroines who lose their hearts to extremely powerful, imperfect heroes, while on dangerous adventures abroad. She called it the Crime Royalty Romance series, and kicked it off with The Frenchman, which landed her an agent at Spencerhill Associates. Lesley’s never sure who or what will pop up in her imagination next. The Irishman? The Spaniard? The Englishman? She’s taking requests!
As we neared the yacht, I could see only lights from a few windows of the cabin area. Near the bow, men were lingering, smoking. I was shaky as I walked across the sloped plank, and it wasn’t from the cold wind coming off the sea.
Louis’s entourage joined me on the deck. I was struck by how much larger the entire boat seemed once you were on it. My escorts pointed in the direction of the lit cabin with encouraging nods. Just outside the doorway, looking down into the deep inset cabin, I spotted Louis sitting at an elaborate bar, sipping a highball.
He was poised, on the edge of a stool, in black dress pants, one long, thick leg stretched out, the other bent underneath the stool. The sleeves of his blue dress shirt were rolled up, which, I noted, might be a habit of his. He spun the whiskey around in his hand, watching the golden elixir reflect light. I wondered if he was trying to read his fortune in that glass, he stared so intently at it. I recalled the night we met, at the bistro, how he gave off animosity. But now I knew better: it was power.
He glanced up and watched me step down into the cabin. His silent magnitude left me breathless. He took in my dress quickly, eyes steady, and when he broke into a smile, my heart skipped a beat.
“You came,” he said in English, standing up, looking ginormous in the tiny room.
“Bien sûr,” I answered. Why would he think I wouldn’t?
He was already near. It was odd: his face was sketched with relief. He reached for my hand and pulled me to him, brushing his mouth close to mine with a mere greeting. He paused, hovering near, suddenly shifting his lower half up so close I could feel the heat coming off of him. He clamped his lips down on mine with two-ton force. I was crushed under all his intensity as he nudged my mouth open and tasted me. My heart was beating a mile a minute. I kissed him back, tasting the whiskey on his tongue, smelling his cologne and natural musk. We lingered a moment, before he pulled back and, clasping both my cheeks, planted two more soft kisses on my lips.
My chest hurt from a strange new kind of anxiety, high-pitched, full of woe. Dread closed in on me. I’d never felt so exposed standing before one human being before. And realization that he could desecrate me with a mere cold shoulder sank in.
And maybe that was his point. But why?
“Is that what you want? Do you want me to go?” I whispered, trying to keep my voice steady.
I swear a universe of emotion flickered in his eyes, but it presented itself so quickly, and was hidden from view, I wondered if it existed at all.
He shrugged. As if I was asking him what color tie he wanted to wear.
I gasped. The floor opened up beneath me, and, as I fell, I knew it then. He was the keeper—the keeper of our connection. And he’d decided to punish me, without explanation, to prove a point that he refused to explain.
I recalled thinking once that he was a rotten man. What had happened to that idea? It was suddenly clear and present again.
I rushed into my dress, zipping it up on the way to the door. I stumbled because tragedy lay before me.
Was I going to leave?
My heart was up in my throat, and tears ran down my cheeks.
Why was he so mean?
I didn’t understand!
I was steps from his door. Yes. I was running home. To my mother. Like the child he clearly thought I was. The lump in my throat ached, as with one last gasp of disbelief, I pulled on the handle, desperate for him to stop me and desperate to get away, but . . . the door wouldn’t budge.
I tugged again.
His hand was above me, holding it closed. The tattoo glared down at me. He’d moved—fast. To stop me.
He didn’t want me to leave after all.
I didn’t know whether to be relieved or terrified or angry.
I felt, only, numb.
When he stepped into me, my body moved of its own volition as close to the door as possible.
Seems he’d gotten what he was so desperate to have. I was scared of him.
He buried his face in my hair, and my chest burned. Tears of hurt streamed down my face. What had just happened? My heart was pumping so fast it was going to burst and spray black everywhere, and I didn’t even know why!
“Fleur,” he whispered.
No. I shook my head, but his body had drawn close and followed mine as I tried to shift away against the door.
“Fleur,” he whispered.
I paused. We stood there, barely touching, me trapped in a standstill of . . . hope. So much hope. Pure hope. It was a field of azure bluebonnets on a Texas highway promising to bud every spring without tending or mercy. I didn’t know what he wanted from me, not by the way he had said my name, or in general, anymore, and I didn’t care, not as long as he wanted me.
Slowly, gently, he pulled me into him, and I let him.
I let him.
And . . . time began again.
Title: The Frenchman
Series: Crime Royalty Romance #1
Author: Lesley Young
Release Date: December 2nd, 2015
Source: Tour Host
I received an advanced copy of this book for free from the tour host in exchange of an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have to admit that when I first saw this story on one of the various book sites I tend to read, the premise piqued my interest. I mean, the setting just happens to be one of my favourite places to read about: France. Secondly, it features a guy from a crime royalty family and that made him an anti-hero more so than the typical leading men I read about.
It is always interesting to see whether I end up liking this kind of story or not. Luckily, in this case for the most part, I did find myself liking it quite a bit.
The main character Fleur just recently moves to live with her biological mother in a small town in France. Her mother just also happens to work for the police, which makes things a little more dangerous.
Fleur isn’t the type to do anything wrong or cause strife, she’s usually the good girl. The very good girl. So for her to fall into the circle of one Louis – the guy whose family is a major player in the crime world and is essentially “royalty” in France – is the most unlikely thing for her to do.
I have to admit that it took a little time for me to warm up to these two characters, and to appreciate Louis for who he was but I did find myself saying that it was what it was, ya know? I knew going into it that Louis wasn’t some Prince Charming and my expectations were such that I could not be disappointed, only happily surprised. And I was.
Steamy, to say the least, and smooth writing and pacing made this one a fairly hot and enjoyable read.