Melting His Heart
A wintertime romance in New Zealand
Kate Pleasance needs to flee her home city of Auckland and create a new life away from family stress and infidelity. Might the advertisement seeking a ‘Superwoman’ be her answer? Short-listed, she’s flown to the vibrant winter tourist resort of Queenstown at her prospective employer’s expense. Snow is dusting the mountain tops as the jet glides in, and she’s shocked to be collected by tall, dark internet billionaire, Matthew McLeod. Where is the woman she spoke with on the phone?
Kate is driven first to hospital to meet his injured sister, and then to their magnificent home to stay the night. Lottie is a world-famous painter, and Kate craves the job as her assistant, but she’s totally unsettled by charismatic Matthew who teases her unmercifully. Knowing she’s dangerously attracted, she vows to refuse the job, should it be offered, and run like hell.
After a disastrous first marriage, Matthew has lived in a freezing void. His duplicitous ex-wife chose him for his money, and when she tried to blackmail him he swiftly divorced her and swore off future entanglements. He’s buried himself in his work to keep the demons at bay, but now there’s a potent new threat tearing at his resolve.
Although she’s plainly diving for cover, job-seeker Kate is dragging his ruthlessly supressed emotions back to the surface. Temptation he’s easily shrugged off in the past now eats him alive. Can he persuade her to stay long enough to fan the smouldering sparks between them until they burst into white-hot flames?
Warning: Contains one tall tortured man who's super-talented in bedrooms and boardrooms.
Kris Pearson - I adore your work! Melting His Heart was absolutely fabulous!
If you are a reader who enjoys picturesque landscape descriptions, believable, realistic dialogue, captivating storyline, and sensual sex scenes, talented New Zealand author Kris Pearson is for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars love kris always, 16 Sep 2013By C. Andrews (grimsby england) Again another good read from kris and she never disappoints, I have read most of her wellington series and when i saw this i couldnt wait to get stuck in, her books are all happily ended but with bumps in the road toward that ending with both strong characters and good back ground stories, this lived up to the others, good characters with a touch of jumping to conclusions due to family connections and romance which never hurts a book, as always can never put her books down.
Chapter One — Met by Matthew
Kate Pleasance scrolled through the online job ads for the morning, and stopped when SUPERWOMAN WANTED jumped out at her. Could she be a superwoman? She huffed out a sigh. She’d been pretty damn super for the last three months!
With nothing to lose, she emailed her CV and a slightly cheeky letter. She was exactly ready for a different life—away from the sad memories of her mother, and far away from all the people and places she’d known when she was Simon’s partner. This definitely sounded different—something she could get her teeth into and distract herself with—and in New Zealand’s most famous alpine resort, too.
As she alighted from the commuter jet a bare week later, the biting June air seeped through her cream Merino suit jacket, through her camisole, into her very skin. From the plane, Queenstown had looked deceptively summery—blue sky from edge to edge—even though there was an icing-sugar dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains. She’d left sixteen degrees at home, way to the north in Auckland. Here it was a crisp and shimmering eight.
She scanned the arrivals lounge where other passengers were greeting friends and relatives. Charlotte had said she’d be there to meet Kate, but what did Charlotte look like?
Not like the elderly lady in the blue hat. It hadn’t been a quavery old voice on the phone.
Hopefully not like the harassed-looking woman with the screaming child— although she certainly seemed in need of a helpful companion.
And certainly not like the tall dark man with his head down, studying something. They were the only people who’d not claimed their passengers yet. Perhaps Charlotte was still finding somewhere to park her car? Kate strode resolutely on.
Matthew compressed his lips and lifted his eyes from the photograph clipped to the CV. That had to be the Pleasance girl in the cream suit. The photo showed a pale young woman with her dark hair pulled back and pinned up. She stared primly into the camera lens—trying to look businesslike, he supposed. Trying to look innocuous enough to gain access to his home where she could spy for her ruthless father, more like!
He saw now that she was unusually tall, moved with easy grace, and had hair right out of a shampoo ad—thick, glossy, and flowing down past her shoulders today. His fingers twitched at its imagined softness and warmth. Scheming bitch! The severe CV photo certainly didn’t do justice to candidate number three. For the interview, she was apparently turning on all her feminine wiles in an effort to put him and Lottie off their guard.
He reached out and touched her arm as she moved past.
Kate whirled around, dislodging his hand. Obviously he expected her if he knew her name. So who was he? And where was Charlotte?
He was tall, so she relaxed a fraction. At five-eleven she constantly disguised her height; at least she didn’t have to do her telescoping act with this unknown man. But he had curiously hostile eyes. Silver-blue and somehow menacing. If he was here to greet her, why did he seem less than welcoming?
“Matthew McLeod,” he said, thrusting out a hand.
For her to shake? Or to take her luggage? Kate put her overnight bag down. He chose her hand, not the bag. His handshake was warm and firm—almost too hard. Better than a jellyfish ‘soft-for-a-lady’ effort though, she thought, returning part of his masculine pressure.
“Lottie broke her ankle this morning,” he said. “I’ve left her at the hospital. Okay with you if we go straight back there?”
Lottie? Charlotte? Kate supposed so. She nodded, summoning up a concerned expression for the woman she’d never met, but hoped to be working for.
Matthew scooped up her bag and indicated the terminal doors with a nod. Kate found that even with her long legs she had to bustle to keep pace with his uncompromising stride.
The winter sun was low and dazzling. She gained no further impression of Charlotte’s husband except height and dark hair until they were seated in his big mud-spattered silver SUV. She tried not to stare, but no matter how firmly she instructed her eyes to look away, they insisted on taking sneaky peeks at him.
He was somewhere between thirty-five and forty, with a wide sensual mouth and deep smile lines etched either side of it. A mouth she could imagine quirking humorously, snarling with displeasure, or kissing like the devil. It was set in a lean and battered outdoor face with few other traces of softness.
His long nose had been broken sometime in the past and imperfectly reset. His hair was almost army-short. Not a man to pick a fight with. Yet undeniably sexy if you liked hard, arrogant men.
She didn’t. Definitely not. That’s what her head said. But something deep inside her responded to him, dammit. She decided to put it down to too much worry and too little sex. No sex for several months—enough to make a girl very twitchy when faced with a prime specimen like Matthew McLeod. Thank God he was off the menu.
“Are you clumsy?” he threw sideways at her.
“Is this part of the job interview?” Kate demanded, somewhat taken aback.
He surprised her by laughing—a deep husky chuckle which buzzed right through to her bones. “Well, you’ve got a bit more spirit than the other hopefuls. They were disappointingly polite.”
She allowed herself a small smile, and relaxed very slightly. She had no idea how to reply.
“No—not part of the job interview,” he continued. “But Lottie’s clumsy. Bad balance. She went for a skid by the pond this morning and fell onto the rock garden. Hence the broken ankle. Concussed herself too, possibly.”
“I hope this won’t be a wasted visit for you then,” Kate murmured, still amazed the McLeods had paid for her to travel so far south for the interview. And Matthew had mentioned ‘other hopefuls’, so several airfares had apparently been provided. She wondered what the chances were she could get the job.
“Lottie liked you on the phone.”
Kate sensed he’d weighed his words carefully. Only sensible in this sort of situation, but she wished she could get some sort of handle on him. Maybe he’d taken an instant dislike to her? Perhaps he’d do everything possible to ensure she wouldn’t be the successful job seeker? She was much less comfortable with him than she’d been during her phone call with Charlotte. There was… definite wariness emanating from him. She watched him draw a deep breath.
“I can tell you a bit more now I’ve met you,” he continued, glancing across as he slowed to let another car pull out.
Kate had never seen eyes so hypnotic. Bright as rushing water... or icy winter sky. She felt helplessly ensnared—like some poor struggling animal in a trap. It was impossible to look away. Not because it would seem impolite, but because he somehow had her under his control. She didn’t like that sensation at all, and shifted restlessly in her seat. Her former slight sense of relaxation had entirely disappeared. Now she was truly edgy.
“We put her name in the ad as Charlotte McLeod, which it legally is,” Matthew said. “But you might know her better as Lottie Janssen?”
It took only a few seconds for the name to register. “The painter! Oh goodness...” For the moment, Kate could find no other words. Lottie Janssen was famous far beyond her New Zealand homeland. Kate had seen a TV documentary about her a few months previously. Lottie’s huge angry landscapes sold almost exclusively in London and Amsterdam for prices that made most people gasp.
“The painter indeed,” Matthew said dryly. “She loses herself in her painting. Doesn’t look after herself well enough. I’m away from home a lot, so we need a sort of lady’s companion—although nothing that prissy.” He checked the rear view mirror for a second and changed lanes. “A minder. An organiser. A Personal Assistant and much more. Someone to feed her if she forgets... to go for supplies... keep her functional. Be her chauffeur sometimes. Pick her up if she falls over, too, it would seem.” He shot her another searching look. “We have a weekly cleaner, so there’s no drudgery. Lottie needs a mother hen. Able to take over her correspondence and admin and leave her free to paint. The ad covered most of it. And her phone call, I suppose. Have I managed to put you off?”
Kate shook her head. “I’m bowled over.”
“She is... a rather daunting task,” Matthew continued. “We need absolutely the right person. Strong but subtle?” He locked eyes with her again. “Would you be strong but subtle, Miss Pleasance?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The story behind the book
We had two gorgeous holidays in central Otago, the area Queenstown is in. It's such distinctive landscape - wide open skies, tossing red tussock grass, majestic mountains. I had this story in my mind for several years before I launched it, and I decided it would become the first of the series I'm calling 'Heartlands'. Like Kate, I flew over the mountains in a small plane to Milford Sound. Unlike Kate, I had my husband for company! It was a memorable trip, and I hope I've done the scenery justice.
Matthew's big house is real, although I've disguised it somewhat and added Lottie's painting studio on top. It would be a fantastic place to live full-time.
We're in Lord of the Rings country, with sheepdogs herding sheep. This is Glenorchy, where Lottie went painting and got trapped overnight by snow.
Queenstown sits on the edge of Lake Wakitipu. Here you see the the winter snow on the Remarkables - just as Kate would have seen it from the air as she returned.
The old steamer Earnslaw.
I had this pinned up on the curtain next to my desk as I wrote Melting His Heart. A quick glimpse sideways transported me right to the people and places I was writing about.