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Backstory

PRIDE & A PREGNANCY SECRET

Silhouette Desire, February 2008

Pride & A Pregnancy Secret, the second book in the Diamonds Down Under continuity series was a challenge, and stretched me to the limit as a writer. Tying the characters, the details, the settings together was complex. But at the end of the day it all came together. And I'm utterly thrilled with the final result that is DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER. Let me share with you 6 things about the story, the characters and the places where the action take place.

1. JESSICA'S CAT

The cat ALMOST didn't survive the first draft of P & A P S. And Picasso certainly wasn't welcome in Ryan's blue-chip-bachelor penthouse.


Picasso? Ryan's frown deepened. Who the hell was Picasso? Oh, yes...her ragbag cat.

No pets. No kids. No press. No diamond rings. Those had been the ground rules of their affair. He wasn't sure which item on the list he detested most. They all reeked of the insidious ways that women curtailed a man's freedom. If he'd allowed the cat, the designer elegance of the penthouse would've been transformed into homely before he'd had time to take a breath.
But this ragbag feline has nine lives!

2. THE PYRMONT PENTHOUSE


Ryan's luxurious penthouse on Pyrmont Peninsula, Darling Island, is in one of the most sought-after waterfront locations in the world. Overlooking Sydney Harbour, the penthouse has amazing views of the city skyline.

After Jessica was promoted from the Blackstone's Adelaide store to become manager of the flagship Sydney store, Ryan talked Jessica into all but moving to his penthouse. It's private. It's luxurious. It's the perfect tryst for lovers. Surely the spacious penthouse has everything a woman could want? A state of the art kitchen, an interior furnished by Sydney's top designer, a spa on the deck, an in-ground plunge pool and an endless deck right on the water to laze away the summer evenings. He's even convinced her to sublet her own apartment—or so he thinks!



But a multi-million dollar penthouse is not what Jessica most desires... And when Jessica walks away from the sterile life, Ryan finds that he's restless...and the penthouse-that-has-everything no longer holds Jessica. It loses much of its appeal for this millionaire bachelor.

3. BLACKSTONE'S SYDNEY


At the top of the stairwell lay the salon-style showroom, with its thick marbled columns and glittering crystal chandeliers, redolent with the rich patina of wealth.
The Sydney Blackstone's store is the place to go to find magnificent diamonds. From clear colourless stones to pinks and yellows the choice is endless. Jessica has the job of her dreams—manager of the prestigious Sydney store. She loves the diamonds, she enjoys helping couples pick out an engagement ring—despite the bittersweet emotion that fills her at such times. Because Ryan Blackstone made it clear he'll never give a diamond ring to any woman.



After discovering that she was pregnant she had no choice but to walk away from Ryan Blackstone. Work is all she has. She's good at it—and she loves it. Right now she's working with Kimberley Blackstone-Perrini to put together the upcoming Something Old Something New launch of next summer's best jewellery designs. With sparkling, unique pieces put together by designers such as Xander Safin—and Dani Hammond. Jessica couldn't be more fulfilled from a career perspective—until Ryan decides he wants to be involved in the launch too...

4. FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE, MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA
The annual St. Valentine Diamond Stakes, sponsored by Blackstone Diamonds would be held next week in Melbourne. Jessica had been considering giving the event a wide berth this year. Prickles of tension spread across her skin. Last year she'd spent the day pretending to barely know Ryan and the night going wild in his arms...

"It would be a pity to miss that." She glanced at him hoping that none of her memories showed in her eyes.

A frown pleated his brow. "I'm too busy to go to Melbourne."
Because she knows she will be safe, that Ryan will be far away, Jessica attends the race on Valentine's Day at Flemington Racecourse (famous for the Melbourne Cup—first run in 1861). Only to find...
The emerald turf of Flemington racecourse provided a dramatic backdrop for the jewel-bright silks worn by the jockeys. In the parade ring, the best of this year's fillies circled. Some walked on a loose rein, while others snatched at the bit and kept breaking into a trot, showing high spirits.

"Beautiful, aren't they?"

At the sound of Ryan's rough voice, Jessica lowered the binoculars. He was dressed in entirely in black. A black suit, black shirt and black highly polished Italian shoes. He looked debonair, dangerous...and every inch a Blackstone.

"I wasn't sure that you were coming." She met his gaze squarely. "I certainly didn't expect to see you here."



Ouch! But as unlucky as Jessica might be in love, she has a talent for picking the winner each year. And this year her eye is caught by a Blackstone filly fittingly named Diamond Lady.
"Here they come!" Ryan's exclamation had her leaning forward to squint at the horses in leading bunch. "And Diamond Lady is right up there."The fillies thundered past the stands, the jockeys bent over their necks, their bodies in rhythm with the horseflesh beneath them. The roar of the crowd was deafening."She might make it!" The excitement in Ryan's voice was contagious. Jessica grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly as the horses flashed past the finish line.
As Jessica discovered there's a definite excitement at the races. Adrenalin? Maybe. It's a sexy kind of energy. And Ryan and Jessica are not immune!

5. BUNDABERG GINGER BEER



Jessica and Ryan enjoy a picnic lunch which is accompanied by my fave drink of all time: Bundaberg Ginger Beer. An Aussie treasure. Truly. Bundaberg Ginger Beer—named for the town—is made from honest-to-goodness root ginger which is grown in central Queensland. The ginger taste is sharp and refreshing, but without too much spiciness. Perfect for the 30 degree plus days were having in Auckland right now! I love the sound of the Brown Pelican—a recipe from Bundaberg's website.

Brown Pelican
125mL Apple cider
75mL Bundaberg Ginger Beer
Ice
Combine all ingredients, stirring gently and splash over ice cubes in a highball glass. ENJOY!

6. BYRON BAY
When I visited Byron Bay several years back I thought it was one of the most idyllic places on earth. Wide beaches. Endless ocean. And a stunning lighthouse perched on Australia's most easterly point. So it was easy to locate the Blackstone family's beach house in Byron Bay to which Ryan and Jessica pay an all to fleeting visit.
"There quite a few pods of dolphins who make Byron Bay their home." Ryan had come up soundlessly behind her. And Jessica struggled to keep her composure as his warm breath winnowed her hair as he spoke. "And in winter the humpback whales come to visit. The bay is full of stingrays."

His arms slid around her from behind, and his chin rested on her shoulder, his cheek against her hair.
And while there are sad memories attached to the beach house for Ryan—it's the place where his mother died—it also holds happy memories. Memories of quality family time spent together with his father, times that Ryan holds sacred. So it's no surprise that it's here where we see a more tender, more emotional side of the tough, uncompromising Ryan Blackstone.

I have no doubt that despite the poignant memories associated with the beach house, despite the possibility that the family might need to raise funds to fight off a takeover of Blackstone's, the beach house will always be there for the Blackstones.


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