My name is Charlotte Agoston, and I’m a runner. Not the ‘let’s go for a jog and slap a 26.2 sticker on your bumper’ kind of runner; I’m the kind of runner who takes off when her father is staring down the barrel of a guilty verdict that carries a 175-year sentence for perpetrating the largest fraud in the history of the world. That’s right. Bernie Madoff was an amateur compared to Alistair Agoston.
Faced with living under a cloud of suspicion and constant questioning by the FBI, I ran. I’m making a new life in New Orleans as Charlie Stone. I traded my future in New York high finance for tattoos, booze, a few friends who don’t ask questions, and one giant mutt named Huckleberry Finn. Everything is simple and uncomplicated until Simon Duchesne—former hotshot Navy fighter pilot, NOLA’s favorite son, city councilman, and rumored congressional hopeful—walks into my life.
The flashing cameras he attracts threaten to expose everything I’m hiding, but I can’t seem to stay away. Why are the most dangerous ideas always the most seductive?
In trying to get lost, I found myself. And then I found Simon. He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name. I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it. This is our story.
Will we be strong enough to face the consequences of revealing what’s beneath this mask?
Backing me into a corner, he trapped me in the circle of his arms, much like he had earlier at the gate. I reached up and laid my palms against his chest, tracing the compass inked on his pectoral muscle with my index finger. Our skin didn’t touch anywhere else, but mine prickled with the need to feel him against me. I leaned closer, but he grasped my shoulders, effectively holding me back.
I looked up questioningly.
“You left me a message, then slammed a gate in my face, then you strip in front of me, and invite me to go skinny dipping. I can’t keep up with you. I need to know what the hell is going on here before it goes any further.”
I sagged back against the edge of the pool, letting the concrete lip dig into my spine. So much for my hastily constructed plan. An experienced seductress I was not. He must have read the defeat in my expression because he said, “I’m not saying I’m not interested. Hell, I’m buck ass naked, and I can’t exactly hide that I want you. But I need to know ... why now? What changed?”
I stared down at the water, wishing fleetingly that the pool lights were on so I’d know for certain that he still did, in fact, want me. But given the leap I’d taken by stripping naked in front of him, I suppose I owed him at least some sort of an explanation.
“I decided that, for tonight, I didn’t care that you’re you and I’m me. I decided to take a risk and see what happened.” My answer was vague and without substance, but I hoped it would be enough. Heat pulsed between my legs and my nipples beaded almost painfully. I wanted him. Now.
But he didn’t relent. “It doesn’t matter who I am or who you are. Tonight or any other night. We’re just people.”
I held in a snort. Barely. He wouldn’t be in this pool if he knew who I really was. I was poison to someone like him. To everyone.
Simon tilted my chin up, forcing me to meet his eyes. “If I fuck you tonight, are you going to throw me out on my ass as soon as we’re done and never call me again?”
I bit my lip. Damn. He should be a freaking interrogator instead of a politician. But I wasn’t going to lie to him. At least not about this. “Probably.”
He released my chin and backed away. “Then, no.” He shook his head. “This isn’t happening. Not tonight.” He turned and made his way to the stairs. I caught a flash of his pale, muscular ass as he climbed out of the pool. I looked down at the water, hot humiliation filling me. What the hell am I doing? I sank farther beneath the surface, up to my chin. I needed to be covered. I heard the rustle of clothes and wondered how he was drying off without a towel. But I didn’t look up to assuage my curiosity. I’d given in to curiosity once already tonight, and this was where it landed me. In a pool of my own shame.
He cleared his throat, and I finally looked up. He was wearing his tux pants, and the shirt was partially buttoned. He held his soaked white undershirt in his hand. One question answered.
His hazel eyes drilled into me. “You have my number. Call me when you want more than a quick fuck.”
And then he was gone.
He reached a hand back and tugged his shirt over his head. I drank in his tanned skin and rippling muscles. He truly was a beautiful man. He kicked off his shoes and knelt at my feet to pull off my Chucks without untying the laces. It was a staggering realization to my champagne-soaked brain that he might have noticed I never untied them. What other details about me had he noticed that no one else would? I was crazy to think he’d never find out the truth. I never should’ve let it get this far. But how could I stop myself? He was so ... perfectly imperfect, and I wanted all of him. For every second I could steal.
He reached for his belt and paused. “I’m staying tonight.” It wasn’t a question.
“Okay.” I reached for the hem of my shirt and started to drag it upward. He reached out, covering my hand with his to stop me.
“But if you take that off, I’m not going to be able to stop myself from having you.”
“Good.” I yanked at his grip, trying to get the shirt off.
He squeezed my hand. “No. Not tonight. The first time we’re together, you’re going to be stone cold sober, because I want you to remember every single thing I do to you.”
My insides turned hot and liquid. A pulse thrummed between my legs. “You already told me you’d put out. No take backs. It’s not fair.”
He leaned down and brushed his five o’clock shadow against my cheek before saying into my ear, “Tough shit.”
He pulled back, and I stuck out my lip and pouted. Simon caught it between his teeth and tugged before releasing it. “So fucking tempting. You have no idea.” He spun and looked at my bureau. “Pajama pants? And I know you own them. I distinctly recall a striptease that involved a pair.”
I huffed. “Second drawer from the bottom.” He opened the drawer, pulled out a silky pink pair, and tossed them at me.
“I’ll be right back. You better not be naked.”
“You’re such a hardass prude, Mr. Duchesne.” He took a step toward the doorway and gripped the top of the frame. His tongue swiped across his bottom lip, and his hazel eyes shifted from playful to serious.
“You’re worth the wait.”
He walked out of the room, and I heard the bathroom door shut.
I clutched the pajama pants in my fist as my heart tumbled further down the path of no return. A single thought crystallized in my head: Fuck. I could fall in love with this man.
When you come across a book that have you talking about it days after you have read it, then you know you have a winner. Well, Beneath the Mask is one such book.
My decision to read and review this title were done on a whim. I had no knowledge of this author so I was entering unchartered waters by taking that decision. My reason for taking this risk was based solely on the blurb. I had no idea if I was going to like it or not.
Well, after completing Beneath this Mask, which kept me up all night, I have to say without a doubt it was well worth the risk. This is an emotional read, so be prepared to have all your emotions engaged.
This story has a dual POV, which allowed me to identify with the both protagonists thereby enabling me to experience all they were feeling.
In Beneath this Mask, readers are introduced to Charlotte Agoston and Simon Duchesne. Charlotte is looking to start her life afresh after her father was arrested and charged with securities fraud. She wanted to distance herself from all the publicity and the stigma surrounding her father’s crime as such, we see her changing her name, location her appearance and her persona. Simon is a former navy pilot, the son of a congressman and a budding politician. The chances of them meeting was not very high, but fate has a way of bringing two souls together that are meant to be. Their meeting would lead to major changes in both their lives.
Charlotte found herself falling for Simon, which made it more and more difficult for her to keep her past life as a secret. She found herself torn between telling him the truth and keeping her secret. Simon knew she was hiding something and the closer he got to her the more determined he was to find out what it was.
Simon is the type of guy that most women would give their left arm just to have him in their lives. He is sweet, sensitive, caring and sexy. He is not afraid to go after what he wants and he wanted Charlotte. He had no intention of giving her up.
This is a great storyline that will captivate you from beginning to the end. It will have you turning the pages as you will be eager to find out what will happen next. The love scenes are passionate, sizzling and hot.
Overall, this is an excellent read and I can’t wait to see what next the author has in store for her readers.
Meghan March is a Michigan native who has spent a good portion of her life buried in a book. Case in point: she read the entire romance section of her small town public library by age fourteen. Even after growing up (sort of) and getting a law degree, she never lost her passion for a great story, twisty plot, epic romance, and amazing characters. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, target shooting, drooling over fast cars, playing with her crazy mutt, or hanging with her very own sexy bad boy.