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High finance and a sizzling office affair raise desire and passion to the boiling point in Virna DePaul’s seductive new contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Carly Phillips, Lori Foster, and Molly O’Keefe. Cara Michal has had to fight every step of the way to earn her place in the glittering seven-figure world of Wall Street. Years ago her hardworking father, a small-time investment adviser, was wrongfully accused of fraud. Now Cara is at the top of her game, supporting not only herself but her mother and brother. The occasional night out dancing soothes Cara’s soul, even as a bitter need for revenge against the man who destroyed her father makes inner peace elusive.
Then, in a moment of heat, Cara kisses a sexy stranger at a party—only later to discover that the man is Branden Duke, her new boss, an infamous operator with a wicked reputation in bed and on the Street. Branden is a man who seemingly has it all—except a woman who connects with him on a physical and emotional level. Now that he’s found Cara, he’s not sure he can let her go, even if he should.
In spite of herself, Cara is drawn to this charismatic guy. He is a challenge like none she has ever faced in her life. Their passion for each other is unquenchable, surprising them both with its ferocity. Even as Cara wonders if she can trust this man with her heart and soul, the ecstasy of their love cannot be denied. But when the past threatens the present, the two are faced with a truth from which they may never recover.
Praise for Filthy Rich “With a wonderfully seductive story—not to mention an absolutely delicious hero—Filthy Rich by Virna DePaul is an absolute must read!”—New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner
“DePaul spins a familiar romantic setup into a web of seductive intrigue and sizzling romance in her latest contemporary love story, set against the skyscrapers of Manhattan. . . . The twists and turns of the fast-paced plot are delightful, and the book is filled with page-scorching heat. The dominant, rich hero and strong, capable heroine break away from stereotypes in a subtle yet definite manner, making their story entirely believable.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Filthy Rich boasts a detailed mystery plot and hot love scenes that scorch the page. The smart, honorable hero and heroine are supported by a strong secondary cast of characters who add depth and warmth to an already solid story.”—BookPage
“The story starts off strong with great flirtation and sexual tension.”—RT Book Reviews “Filthy Rich is definitely a good choice. It will keep you entertained and get your lady bits tingling. It will leave you feeling satisfied. So don’t miss out on Cara and Brendan—their adventure was fun and I absolutely suggest you read their book.”—Maine Book Mama “I liked the story. You don’t see many romance storylines that deal with Wall Street, so I was all over this one.”—Cocktails and Books “Filthy Rich combines intense passion with intrigue and danger in a fast-paced and enjoyable story with surprising twists and turns. Ms. DePaul does a great job of building up the tension.”—The Sassy Bookster
“I love it when I think I have guessed who did what and then, boom, plot twist! LOL! This story will suck you in and leave you begging for more.”—Wicked Women Book Blog
Under the Cover
An excerpt from Filthy Rich
“Go. Just go. At a party like this, you could meet the love of your life.”
Cara Michal didn’t bother rolling her eyes, mostly because her friend Iris was giving out unwanted advice over the phone and couldn’t see her do it.
“I work on Wall Street, Iris. The guys I work with, the ones attending this company event, aren’t interested in love. Even if they were, I’m not.”
“Well, apparently you’re not interested in fun or sex, either. Jesus, Cara, just how long has it been since you’ve been on a date?”
This time Cara did roll her eyes, but smiled. Usually Iris wouldn’t have to ask the question--knowing someone since high school made it so questions like this were usually irrelevant-but their monthly manipedi meet-uphad been forfeited for the last six weeks due to Cara’s intense work schedule, and Cara had barely managed to respond to Iris’s multiple texts with a simple thumbs-up or “ugh” face. She’d barely had time to eat and sleep, let alone check in with her friend.She missed Iris. Thankfully, the huge project she’d been working on was over and she’d be getting back to a seventy-five-hour work week instead of what had been closer to a hundred. And maybe get back to dating, too, although she doubted it. The last few datesshe’d accepted had been more trouble than they were worth, and she wasn’t eager for a repeat.
“It’s been awhile,” Cara admitted. “But I knew when I started the four-year analyst program at Dubois & Mellan, that’s what I was signing up for. That’s why they pay me the big bucks,” she added dryly. Earning asix-figure salary three years after graduating college wasn’t anything to scoff at, but the reality was that it didn’t go very far, either. Not for a single woman living in Manhattan with the kind of responsibilities Cara had, anyway.
“By this time next year, that’ll all change. You’ll get your bonus for completing the program, dole it out to your family, and finally listen to me when I say you need to seriously rethink your chosen professionand do something you love,” Iris said, confidence in her tone.
Another thing about knowing someone since high school was the freedom they felt in handing out unwanted advice. Cara bit her lip and counted to five before answering. “I love analyzing numbers,” she pointed out.
It was mostly a true statement, but there were other things she loved more. Things she might have tried out as a career if her life had turned out differently, like teaching high school math, or computer engineering.Only Iris knew the true reason Cara had become a Wall Street analyst: after her father had died, she’d needed to make good money and make it fast, and if she had to sacrifice her personal life to do it, so be it. But that conversation was one Cara would ratheravoid. Iris was trying to help, but sometimes her brand of help simply made Cara feel a restlessness she couldn’t afford. “You know it’s not as easy as that,” Cara said quietly. “If the firm offers me a permanent position, I’ll have to take it.”
“Even though the work is killing you?” Iris said.
“Overly dramatic, much?” Cara responded dryly.
Iris sighed. “Dead horse. Moving on. You still haven’t answered my question. Have you gone on any dates in the last few weeks that I’m unaware of?”
“Um, I went out with a colleague a couple of times, though we also talked shop so I could justify it.” Greg Johnson was like many of the junior stockbrokers that Cara knew. Tall and attractive. Young. A bit cocky.Rock-hard abs and biceps threatening to bust the seams of his designer clothing. A dazzling smile made more dazzling by teeth whitening. Summa cum laude at Yale. And yet over the course of a couple of dates, he’d proven to be uninspiring. Besides, dating coworkerswasn’t high on her list--too many chances for things to go wrong, and when they did, the inevitable awkward silences and gawky avoidance moves in the hallway would ensue.
“You’re talking about that guy Greg from your office, right? You had dinner and drinks a couple of times. You said you were bored. Hardly a date, in my book.”
“You mean because we didn’t end up between the sheets?” They’d started off at one of the French restaurants near their office--where Greg had attempted to illustrate his knowledge of fine dining and wine. But whilehis overly loud and cocksure attitude had attracted the fawning attention of a couple of sleek young women at the bar, it had flattened her libido. Once the check came and he’d tried to convince her to go with him to a nightclub, she’d pointedly suggested makingit an early night.
“Not exactly, but I detect a noticeable lack of enthusiasm about this guy,” Iris said. “And no wonder. He sounds safe. Just like every other guy you’ve dated the past few years. Would you like me to fix you up withsomeone?”
“No thanks,” Cara said quickly. “I can manage. Besides, you and I seem to go after men that are complete opposites.”
“Yeah, but that hasn’t always been the case. Remember Tony Spokane?”
Cara’s mouth tipped up. Did she ever. Tony Spokane had been the high school cigarette-smoking bad boy, complete with leather jacket, motorcycle boots, and long hair. He’d also been the one thing that had ever threatenedto come between her and Iris. When Cara had realized that, she’d given Iris the all clear. And if she’d continued to periodically daydream about Tony and that dangerous self-assured glint in his eye, long after he and Iris had stopped dating, well, she’d keptthat to herself. Just like she kept to herself the fact she still occasionally daydreamed about bedding a bad boy. Someone sexy and powerful and as far from the high-finance men she dated as one could get.
“Old Tony turned out to be more your speed than mine,” Cara said. “And now that I think about it, most of the guys you date bear a strong resemblance to old Tony.”
Iris snorted. “True. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. At least you meet employed guys.”
“There is that.” Cara leaned back in her chair. Iris had been an artist, actress, gossip blogger, and stand-up comic. At the moment, she was waiting tables in Brooklyn at a dive that served nachos and two-dollarcans of beer to poets and artists. The borrowing type. Another reason Cara had passed on her friend’s offer--yeah, sure, Iris’s boyfriends were sexy as hell, but so totally unreliable.
“So this guy Greg doesn’t make the cut? Not even for a good old-fashioned roll in the hay? Didn’t you say he’s sexy?”
“Sexy body . . . not too sexy of a brain. And his self-serving attitude isn’t all that sexy, either.”
“Is he going to be at the party tonight?”
“He wants to go together, but I haven’t committed.” Cara sat up straight again and fiddled with a pen, tapping it on her desktop. “Some important client of ours is throwing it. Attendance is strongly encouraged,which translates as show up and suck up. But I get so little time off as it is; hanging out with my coworkers is not how I relish spending it.”
“What’s the occasion?”
“Something big with D&M is going to be announced, I think. Maybe a new contract. Or someone’s retiring.” More likely checking in for an extended stay at a mental-health rehab facility. It happened in her line ofwork. A lot. Between the intensity of the work weeks--surgery residents had nothing on stock market traders--and the pervasive alcohol and drug use that came with trying to stay on top of the game, people crashed right and left. Not her, though. She stayedon the straight and narrow. Did her job and only her job.
Maybe that’s why lately she’d been feeling so . . . uneasy. Discombobulated. Like her world had shifted off center and she was standing at a tilt. If her high school crush on Tony had taught her anything, it wasthat there was a wild side to her. Granted, a small one, but one that needed to break free every once in a while. Nowadays all she did was work. And work. And work. Except for those rare times she went by herself to dance in nightclubs, and that obviously wasn’tcutting it anymore. But what would? Finding her own modern-day Tony Spokane to pine after?
She rubbed her temple, trying to dull the slight headache she felt coming on.
“Whatever it is, you should probably hear the news firsthand,” Iris said, interrupting Cara’s thoughts. “And the thing is, you really don’t get out much.”
That was true enough. “I suppose I’ll go.”
“As if there was any real doubt,” Iris snorted. “You live and breathe that job, Cara.”
“Yeah. Unfortunately.” Exhaustion hit, settling into her bones, causing her to drop her pen and lean back in her chair. How much longer could she push this hard? A memory of her childhood, her family on the shoreduring summer, swam into her mind. How gentle and relaxed and warm that day had been . . . her and her brother, Glenn, chasing waves up and down the beach, their mother reading a book under the sun umbrella, their father combing the beach for seashells . .. Just as quickly, the mental image slipped away, leaving her with the sting of nostalgia and the strong desire to be back there, on the beach with her family and her once-idyllic childhood. Impossible, yes . . . “But . . .”
She started. She hadn’t realized she’d said the word out loud. “I do have three weeks of vacation that I’ve never used,” she said. “Maybe I’ll actually take a few days to escape.” She tried to imagine it. Warm sandand water. A frothy drink in her hand. Nothing to do but read a good book and flirt with a hot cabana boy or two. Not quite like her childhood experience at the Jersey shore, but something similar . . . something relaxed. Maybe the Bahamas or even South Carolina.Someplace where she could hear the roar of the surf at night and feel the heat of the sun during the day.
Yeah, right, like she’d ever take the time off work and go somewhere.
More realistically, she’d probably stay close and spend most of the time with her mother or Glenn. Visiting her brother in his residential treatment home, Windorne Care Home, wasn’t the most relaxing of events.She normally tried to see him once a week, but those visits were often stressful and rushed. She counted her blessings that her mind was healthy--she couldn’t imagine how difficult life was for her brother, who had had treatment-resistant schizophrenia sincehis late teen years.
“You seriously should. But never mind the three weeks. Tonight would be, what? Three hours of your precious time?”
“Maybe four. I have to get there and back. The party’s being held at some private house along Long Island Sound.”
“Ritzy. Classy. That means you also need to spend some time finding something appropriate to wear in that black hole of a closet of yours. Seriously, you’re in dire need of some retail therapy. All you have in thereare suits, suits, suits. Navy, black, gray. Blouses, blouses, blouses. Cream, ivory, white. You know, Cara, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up a little, is there? God, with your long blond hair, skin an angel would pay to have, and body made for . . . well,you know. You never play up those amazing assets of yours, and you should.”
Iris was exaggerating about the plethora of work clothes in Cara’s closet, only slightly. Over the last year, she’d found herself wearing a slinky dress, her blond hair loose and over her shoulders, and her faceheavily made up--complete with smoky eyeshadow and matte-red lips--while inside a nightclub, grinding to the heavy beat, losing herself in the thick crowd. She hadn’t told Iris what she was doing, although she felt guilty about keeping a secret from her friend.It was as if she’d found a small way to break free of the burdens working at D&M placed on her.
“I’ll do my best not to embarrass you, Iris.”
“You don’t embarrass me. You make me damn proud, honey,” Iris said, a rare show of emotion in her voice. “You do so much for your family, I just wish you’d take some time to live your life for a change. I hate seeingyou give so much of yourself and take nothing in return.”
Cara closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then forced herself to smile. Iris couldn’t see it, but maybe she’d hear it in her voice. “It’s not forever, Iris. I’m lucky. I’ll have my time eventually.”
When I win the lottery, she thought. But although not having to worry about money would certainly make her life easier, it wouldn’t solve all her problems. This desire to break free being one of them. And the lackof datable material would be another. She cleared her throat. “I’ll start by trying to have a little fun tonight. Promise.”
“Call that guy,” Iris said quickly. “Greg. He might be egotistical, but maybe being around a hot dude might get you in the mood.”
Maybe. Probably not. But Iris’s suggestion was worth considering. After disconnecting with Iris, Cara called Greg. As the phone rang, she hesitated.
She didn’t want to go, she realized. Still, her hesitation confused her. Did she not want to go to the party, or did she not want to go with Greg? This was a work-related function. Whether or not she would be boredby either Greg or conversations with her coworkers shouldn’t matter. Yes, work-related functions were boring, and rightly so. It was far better to maintain the status quo than let loose and get crazy. And some of her work friends would be there, too. Gail fromthree doors down. Tammie, another analyst. It would be nice to chat with them. But God, she wanted more. Wanted to no longer be swimming in monotony. Wanted to no longer feel like she was twisting around in her own skin, held down . . . held back.
But where were all these thoughts coming from? This restlessness, this desire for more, wasn’t her. She was exactly where she wanted to be. Working hard. Making a decent living but still cognizant of the fact thateverything she was working for could be taken away from her at any moment, the way it had been taken away from her family--from her dad. She could never let her guard down. Never get too comfortable. People took advantage of those who had weak walls. Who trustedtoo much. And when people swooped in for the kill, they left only devastation.
It was probably just Iris’s talk of love that was throwing her off. As streetwise as her friend was, Iris was a closet romantic at heart.
Thankfully, she’d flushed that out of her system a long time ago. Romance was for those who had time and money to waste. Not her.
When Greg answered, she caught her breath, then found herself saying, “Greg, it’s Cara. I, uh, decided to go. Did you still want to attend tonight’s party together?”
A former prosecutor, Virna DePaul is the bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction. Whether featuring vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops, or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center on complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love. She loves to hear from readers.