BY: YVIE F
Kenzie Stewart is a brilliant photographer, content with being single. A traumatic marriage not only left her with a mistrust of all men, but a fear of intimacy. Then her world is turned on its axis when she meets Slade Worthington, renowned Winemaker of the Year. During a photo shoot, where they are forced to work together, an unexpected passion awakens inside her, and she does everything she can to quell it.
Slade is intrigued by Kenzie who impedes all his attempts at seducing her. As their journey begins, and their trust in one another develops, secrets from their pasts threaten to unravel the bond they have so carefully molded. From blackmail and extortion, to surprising revelations, will their love endure the dramatic twists and bends?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Sensual Seduction by Yvie F, Kenzie Stewart is a photographer with a well-known studio. She is happy with her life as it is, single and on her own, and is still wary of men from her experiences with her failed marriage. She keeps all men at arm’s length, but when she meets Slade Worthington, winemaker of the year, he won’t keep his distance. He is not used to being refused and is determined to make Kenzie his. However, secrets from both their pasts come back to haunt them. Will such secrets doom their relationship, or can Kenzie and Slade overcome the past and learn to trust?
Like the first book in the series, the characters are charming, the plot solid, and the sex scenes hot. What’s not to like?
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Sensual Seduction by Yvie F is the sequel to her book Healing Hearts. It was a treat reuniting with the familiar characters. In this story, Kenzie Stewart, a photographer, is wary of men and afraid of intimacy, due to a traumatic failed marriage. She won’t any man get close, but when she comes up against winemaker Slade Worthington on a photo shoot, she has met her match. Slade is determined to get much more than close, and Kenzie is not sure how to handle him. To make matters worse, dark secrets from both of their pasts raise their ugly heads, threatening to destroy their fragile relationship.
Well written, fast paced, and full of surprises, Sensual Seduction is filled with real-life problems, fascinating characters, and spicy love scenes. It’s a book romance fans of all ages should love.
The large photographic studio with its white walls, black ceiling, and stark concrete floors vibrated with energy. Cameras flashed and lights burned while the formidable Sabrina Collins barked orders. Several assistants jostled about, harassed by the urgency in the air. They adjusted reflectors and rearranged the white muslin backdrop for the photo shoot.
Kenzie Stewart positioned three Profoto umbrella lights that were mounted on separate tripods, swiveling each one to adjust the brightness. She pointed the lights at the umbrella to reflect and diffuse them evenly, and then measured the temperature of the light in the room with a light meter to ensure it remained at optimum level.
It was early on a Monday morning, and mayhem abounded on the second day of shooting. Kenzie’s set displayed the well-known wine logo together with wine glasses, small barrels stocked with fresh red and white grapes, and platters of assorted cheese, crackers, and marinated black olives.
She aimed her Nikon camera at her subject, focusing on the angle of his face, the way the light shifted across his chiseled features, capturing the essence of the man. He was a masterpiece with his staggering good looks, impeccable clothing, and his superb physique—absolute perfection. His eyes, however, captivated her, piercing through her as she snapped him in several poses. Kenzie bent, crouched, and even perched on a stepladder to obtain the shots she wanted.
The photo shoot began on Friday the week before, but the handsome winemaker had to leave for an emergency meeting—a regular occurrence in the media industry.
Kenzie learned early in her career as a professional photographer not to be hampered by mishaps, instead to make sure her model felt comfortable and relaxed. It was her responsibility to create a good rapport with her subject.
Sabrina clapped. “Okay, people let’s take a break,” she exclaimed.
Kenzie eyed her watch. It was almost midday and her tummy grumbled from hunger.
“I think Mr. Worthington has been patient enough, haven’t you, dear?” Sabrina purred at him, slipping her arm through his.
He grinned, showing off his appealing dimples.
Kenzie eyed Sabrina and smiled. Her boss was in her mid-fifties, but looked at least ten years younger. She was tall, slim, and elegant with striking green eyes and shoulder length platinum blonde hair. She reminded Kenzie of Audrey Hepburn with her large hats and the elegant smoking wand that was always pinned between her fingers.
“Kenzie, when you’re done, I’d like to view the shots please, but let’s have some lunch first, okay?”
Kenzie nodded. “Of course, Sabrina,” she answered.
Luke, one of the assistants, dashed to her side. “What can I do to help?” he offered.
Kenzie chewed her cheek, eyeing him with uncertainty. “That’s okay, I’ve got this,” she replied.
“I don’t mind helping. It’ll keep me busy,” he insisted, determined.
Reluctantly, she accepted his offer, knowing he’d persist otherwise. “Okay, thank you, Luke,” she said as she handed the Nikon to him. He removed the memory card from the camera and handed the camera back to her.
“I’ll set it all up for you.” He smiled, heading to her office.
She bit her lip, watching him as he inserted the card into the card reader linked to her computer. She shook her head, amazed at how far photography studios had come. Gone were the days of dark rooms and chemicals. Now, the darkroom was on the computer. Camera manufacturers promoted the digital single-lens reflex cameras that captured images which were of high quality for use in magazine productions and other such media. The new techniques offered a large range of modern equipment and of course, the necessary editing software. Regardless of these modern practices, Kenzie still preferred the old-fashioned method of film development where images were analyzed in their rawest form.
She stared at Luke and sighed. He had the worst crush on her, and she didn’t like to encourage his advances. Luke seemed to be a great guy, but she wasn’t interested. He was average height with sandy brown hair and blue eyes. He played tennis and had an athlete’s body: firm, toned and muscular. He was in his late twenties and some of the girls in the office fancied him, but he didn’t acknowledge them. He’d asked Kenzie out a couple of times since she started at Through the Lens Photography over a year ago, but she turned him down each time. She remained hesitant to pursue the relationship road anytime soon and much preferred her single status. She even ignored pleas from her friends who nagged her to go on blind dates. Blind dates. She shuddered at the thought. She’d made it clear she would not entertain anymore dates.
Kenzie headed to the buffet table which overflowed with breakfast treats, and she stared at the fare with hunger. She hadn’t eaten today, and her mouth watered from the aroma of the fresh food—succulent fruit, fluffy croissants, blueberry muffins, cold meats, and an assortment of jams. Ignoring the gastronomical delights, she headed straight for the coffee machine and poured a large mug. It had been a busy day so far, and she had been at the studio since five in the morning, arranging the set for the shoot which would take at least a week to finalize.
Slade Worthington was one of South Africa’s foremost winemakers, having won many international awards, which included the coveted five-star Platter’s rating where wines, which are scored four stars and up, are re-tasted in a Five Star taste-off. The taste off was where small panels of experts assessed the wines, blind, to find the Five-star laureates. Worthington Winery had won it twice over the years. Slade Worthington recently won Winemaker of the Year award too, adding to his extensive list of credentials.
Kenzie, however, didn’t know the particulars of Slade Worthington, nor did she care to. Her major focus was only to capture him on film.
Through the Lens Photography was commissioned to do the photo shoot for two prominent editorials running articles on him, a lucrative opportunity for any company. Of course, Sabrina had accepted with enthusiasm. The current shoot happened to be for a well-known lifestyle magazine which wanted to depict the sophisticated side of Slade Worthington. For that set, Slade wore an elegant suit and held a wine glass in his hand. During shooting, Kenzie had prompted him to sniff, swirl, and sip the wine, and he had obliged without complaint. She’d also taken a few photos of him holding his illustrious reward. After lunch, they would go through the images to ensure they were ideal for the publication.
Slade Worthington had also participated in several Iron Man competitions over the years, as well as the Dusi canoe marathon, the globally renowned three-day paddling and running adventure from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Named as the biggest canoeing event on the African Continent, and one of the world’s most popular river marathons, it attracted in the region of two thousand paddlers each year.
The second photo shoot for a popular man’s health and fitness publication, scheduled for later in the week, entailed a more adventurous setting. She’d suggested they do the shoot in the Midlands, but the editor was pressed for time and wanted it done in the studio. Kenzie couldn’t hide her disappointment. To her, photography was art, and the objective of each shot was to capture the perfect image. The angles and lines, the blending of tones and hues, the relationship between light and dark, it was all art. Previously, photographic studios would use green screen, or chroma keying. In this process, the subject either stands or poses in front of the green screen. Several shots were taken, and the images imported to computer. The software did the rest and enabled the user to change and manipulate the background however they liked. Nowadays with digital photography, it was a lot easier to choose from a range of backdrops. Kenzie always preferred neutral backgrounds and so she chose dark gray for Slade’s shoot.
“Hello,” a smooth deep voice spoke beside her and she jumped. She turned and gazed into Slade’s electric blue eyes. She frowned and looked around to see who he was talking to, but she stood alone at the buffet spread. He cocked an eyebrow. “Kenzie Stewart, isn’t it?” he asked, amused.
For some unknown reason, Kenzie’s cheeks burned and she surmised it was because today, she looked shabbier than usual, with her long glossy hair twisted into a messy bun on top of her head. Several tendrils had escaped and framed her face. She wore faded jeans and a sports top which molded to her large full breasts. Most of the time, she wore open buttoned shirts over her tops, but today she had tied the shirt around her trim waist. His eyes lingered on the swell of her breasts and her tummy fluttered. The reaction astonished her. She was not one of those females prone to the charms of handsome men.
She smiled. “Yes. How do you do, Mr. Worthington?” His powerful presence unnerved her. Still puzzled by her reaction to him, she stirred cream into her coffee, hoping he’d leave her alone.
“Please, call me Slade. We’ll be spending the week together, so I’d prefer to skip the formalities. I would have spoken to you sooner, but Friday was a bit of a disaster, I’m afraid. My apologies.”
Kenzie looked at him. “No need to apologize. It has been pretty chaotic. We very seldom do two separate shoots for two different publications at the same time. Are you okay out there? I know it’s a lot of repetition, but I want the images to be perfect,” she babbled. He grinned at her and she stared at his pearly white teeth. Oh, please, don’t you have any flaws? she moaned to herself, suddenly feeling jittery.
“It’s a little tedious, but it’s part of the territory. I’m in your hands to do with as you please,” he commented, his eyes penetrating her.
Her heart flipped at the glint in their blue depths, catching her off guard again.
She brushed off the odd sensations that swirled inside her and frowned. “It’s quite an achievement to win Winemaker of the Year. You must be proud,” she said, moving the conversation onto safer territory.
He chuckled, the sound stroking her nerve endings. She tingled. “Yes, I’m honored. It’s been tough, but I think I’ve survived the worst of it.”
While he spoke to her, his eyes did not leave hers, making her feel like the only person in the room. It rattled her. Kenzie struggled to focus on what he said, too distracted by the bizarre stirring between her legs—a sensation she hadn’t felt in ages.
“Do you know much about wine?” he asked.
She cleared her throat and tried to concentrate on his words. “I enjoy drinking it,” she responded with a shrug. “I know which wine I like, but not much about the other stuff, you know, the swirl, sniff and sip bit.” She sounded like a tongue-tied juvenile. God, what was wrong with her? she mused, irritated.
“I’ll have to remedy that. You should visit my wine farm sometime.” His smile disarmed her.
She stared at his beautiful mouth and imagined what it would be like to be alone with this masterpiece on a wine farm. She pictured him naked amongst his rows of grapes. She swallowed hard.
What has come over me? she wondered as she reined in her wayward thoughts.
“Thank you, Mr. Worth—er—Slade, that would be great, however, I doubt I’ll be able to get away anytime soon.”
He scrutinized her and she averted her gaze, staring into her mug. He didn’t press her.
“What type of wine do you prefer?” he asked.
She looked at him. “I like a Pinotage. It’s full of body, and tastes great with food or without,” she answered.
He cocked an eyebrow. “I agree. It’s a quaffable wine. I’ll have to send a few of my bottles to you,” he offered.
She blushed. “That’s generous of you, Mr. Worth—er—Slade, but you don’t need to do that, thank you.”
“I want to,” he insisted, his gaze fixed on her.
Her pulse quickened, and her lips dried. She licked them and looked away. This man startled her, heightened her senses. She did not enjoy her reactions in the slightest.
“As you wish,” she murmured. “Well, I should get back. If you need anything from me, or if there is something I can do for you, please let me know, and I’d be happy to oblige,” she offered, trying to still her erratic heart.
His eyes bore into her. “That’s a broad request, Kenzie, but right now, I plan to enjoy my coffee. I will, however, keep your proposal in mind,” he remarked.
Her cheeks flamed and she gawked at him, her brown eyes wide. “I didn’t mean—what I meant was…” Her voice trailed off.
He chuckled. “I know what you meant.”
She stared at him, peeved by her foolishness. Clenching her fists, she faced him. “I have a lot of work to do, and we still have an entire shoot to get through. Please excuse me,” she said, marching away. She could feel his eyes burning into her back. She smiled, satisfied with how she handled him. Handsome and insolent, she mused.
Kenzie Stewart was thirty-three years old with large brown eyes, full sultry lips and long lustrous dark hair which she wore in a ponytail. She was a natural beauty who favored jeans and takkies to dresses and heels, and only ever wore mascara, preferably waterproof. Her Mom always nagged her to be more feminine and would drag her to the spa any chance she could. Kenzie hated to admit it, but she enjoyed those self-indulgent mornings—manicures, pedicures, and hot rock massages.
Kenzie had grown up in a close family with one sister and two brothers. Sassa, her younger sister, was also her best friend. The sisters idolized their brothers who, in turn, were protective of them, even taught them how to spar and defend themselves. Kenzie had also taken Karate classes. Her brothers were married to incredible women whom they adored. Her father too, doted on her mom, and the deep respect between her parents had always been obvious. These qualities raised Kenzie’s expectations of the male species. She’d hoped for these attributes in her own marriage, but it wasn’t to be. She shoved thoughts of that time of her life aside.
Kenzie loved the great outdoors and enjoyed camping and hiking, both of which she hadn’t done in a while. Her work occupied all her time. She studied graphic design and had freelanced for several notable magazines before she’d landed the job of her dreams at Through the Lens Photography. She fell in love with the camera at an early age, and throughout her life, recorded her memories on film. Photography was her first love. Even when her world crumbled around her, she could always count on her camera.
She made her way to her office where Luke hovered, ogling her he always did.
“Kenzie, the images are ready, including those from Friday, if you want to check them?”
She grimaced at the look of adulation on his face.
The staff was aware of how he’d chased her since she started at the studio. The more distance she tried to keep between them, the more he overstepped. He hung around, followed her, suffocated her. She had to confront him and set him straight. Soon.
“Thanks, Luke,” she said, leading the way to her office, feeling his eyes undress her as they always did. Her office overlooked the Durban harbor. She stared at the cruise liner docked in the bay and sighed. How she’d rather be embarking on a mystery journey than stuck here with Luke hovering beside her.
She scrutinized each image on screen for flaws. She deleted several and kept the rest for Sabrina to peruse.
“These are good. Sabrina needs to see them. Where is she anyway?” Kenzie asked. She stood up and searched the open area beyond her glass office for a glimpse of her boss.
Luke’s lips curled in distaste. “She’s with Worthington,” he answered.
Kenzie frowned, surprised by his obvious animosity toward Slade Worthington. She looked in the direction he pointed. Most the female staff had hung around the shoot for the morning, enthralled by the handsome man in their midst, hoping for any opportunity to flirt with him. Kenzie sighed and stared at him. He bent to hear what Sabrina was saying, a smile on his beautiful mouth. His mouth, she thought lasciviously. Good heavens, Kenz, get a grip, she scolded herself.
Her heart dipped when he looked across and caught her watching him. As though on cue, she blushed. I’m behaving like a schoolgirl, she berated herself. She returned to her seat and focused on the photos. They were excellent. She had captured his face in the perfect light, the reflection of the wine glass as he swirled it in his large hand, his long fingers wrapped around the stem.
She wondered how it would feel to have his hands caress her breasts. She stiffened and dragged her attention back to reality. Jeez, what was wrong with her, she groaned, pulling herself together.
“Are they ready for me, Kenz?” Sabrina breezed into her office, her cigarette wand in one hand, a large bright red strawberry in the other.
“All yours.” Kenzie moved around to stand across from where Sabrina sat. Her back was to the door and she clasped her hands in front of her. She watched as Sabrina’s eyes widened with each image. She slipped the juicy strawberry between her red lips, and chewed as she leaned in and scrolled through the photos. She ummed and aahed and made other typical Sabrina noises. Kenzie grinned. Sabrina only made those sounds when she was impressed by what she saw.
“My dear girl, these are fabulous. I am delighted you are part of my team. You are my most prized asset. I must show these to Slade at once,” she enthused.
Kenzie stiffened, worried. “Shouldn’t we wait for approval from the editor first?” she questioned, but Sabrina was already waving her hand, summoning Slade. His cell phone was plastered to his ear and he smiled. He held up his index finger to gesture he’d be a moment.
Sabrina sighed. “Oh my, he is delicious. If only I was twenty years younger.” She eyed Kenzie with interest. “He is single you know, Kenz. Maybe it’s time you thought about going out—”
Kenzie raised her hand. “Don’t say it, Sabrina. My life is fine the way it is. I don’t need any complications,” she interrupted. Sabrina’s eyes narrowed, but before she could comment further, Luke chipped in.
“Sabrina, believe me, I’ve tried several times, but she always says no.” His lecherous gaze settled on Kenzie who dismissed the shiver that ran down her spine.
Sabrina cocked an eyebrow at him. “Luke, darling, you are a dashing young man and could in all honesty have any woman you wanted, but Kenzie here needs someone older, someone who will shake her a little, electrify her,” she said, disregarding his remark.
He pulled a face.
Sabrina frowned at him. “You should find someone your own age. And stop pouting!” she ordered.
Kenzie bit back a smile. Right then, she could have hugged Sabrina. Maybe now, Luke would get the message.
Sabrina turned to Kenzie. “You’re gorgeous, and Slade transcends the male species. He is a spectacular man. I don’t see the problem.” She fixed her gaze on Kenzie who squirmed.
“Sabrina, I’m not interested in Mr. Worthington, or anyone else for that matter,” Kenzie replied, agitated.
“That’s unfortunate,” Slade responded as he sauntered into Kenzie’s office.
Kenzie whirled around and stared at him, her eyes wide in surprise. He stood in front of her, a sardonic smile on his lips.
Her heart flipped at the look in his eyes. “I—I’m—I—” she spluttered.
He raised an eyebrow at her. Ignoring her discomfort, he persisted. “So, I suppose dinner is out of the question?” he asked.
For the umpteenth time in one day, her cheeks blazed. “Yes, I’m afraid it is,” she croaked as she crossed her arms over her chest. She jutted out her chin.
The tension between them heightened and her heart accelerated. Slade stepped deeper into the room and his presence filled her office.
The scent of him teased her nostrils, making her heady. Her senses spiraled.
Sabrina noticed, and a sly smile curved her lips. “Oh, go on, Kenz, have some fun for a change. You haven’t been on a date in ages,” she exclaimed.
Kenzie gaped at her, horrified. “Sabrina,” she cried.
Sabrina raised an eyebrow. “Seriously, life is too short. Ask me, I know. Right, that’s settled. You’ll have dinner with Slade tonight. Slade, come over here. You have to see these, they’re superb,” she ordered.
Slade shrugged at Kenzie who glared at him. Luke watched on, and with a cursory glance at Kenzie, he stormed out the office.
Sabrina looked at him and shook her head. “Honestly, that boy,” she moaned.
While they discussed the images, Kenzie tried to control her annoyance and inhaled several deep breaths.
Moments later, Sabrina turned to her. “You are an unbelievable talent, Kenz. Let’s run these.”
Kenzie nodded, her body stiff. “Of course,” she replied, ignoring Slade.
Sabrina turned and strolled out her office, leaving Kenzie alone with Slade. He approached her, hands deep in his pockets. She braced herself.
“I’ll chat with you about our date later,” he said, giving her one of his dazzling smiles before leaving.
She stared at his retreating back, bemused. Sighing, she returned to her computer. She had to send the photos to the editor before she could continue with the photo shoot.
For the rest of the day, she kept her face rigid as she focused on Slade, ignoring the way his eyes roamed her body. She was seething inside, forced into a date against her will. She’d rebuffed all pleas to date, and now her own boss had shattered the barrier she had so studiously erected, pushing her to go out with a total stranger. It grated her.
By the end of the day, her neck was tight and her stomach in knots. All she wanted was to go home and soak in a bathtub of her favorite bubbles. She packed her camera away and was about to leave when he appeared in her office. He leaned against the doorframe, with his hands in the pockets of his trousers and one leg crossed over the other, his eyes fixed on her. He was breathtaking and difficult to ignore. Her senses sparked. How did he do that every time? She didn’t even know him, yet he stimulated unfamiliar feelings in her that left her winded.
“You look exhausted,” he commented in his deep velvety voice.
Kenzie’s lips parted as she stared at him. Her heart rate escalated, and her palms grew clammy. “I, um, I am a little. You must be tired yourself, Mr. Worthington,” she responded, deliberately formal. The office had quietened and only a few people milled about.
“I’ll survive.” He stepped into her office and eased into the chair across from her. “Where would you like to go for dinner tonight?” he asked.
Kenzie’s tummy did a somersault and she frowned. “Slade, Sabrina was only teasing. I don’t think she meant anything by the invitation. You don’t need to take me to dinner,” she murmured.
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “On the contrary, I would like to take you out. Besides, I’m hungry and could do with the company.”
Kenzie inhaled. She knew there was no way to avoid this. “Fine. I don’t, um, go out much, so wherever you decide will be okay with me,” she answered, biting her bottom lip.
“You’re leaving it to me?” he challenged.
“I guess I am. Let me know where you choose, and I’ll meet you there,” she said.
He chuckled. “I don’t think so. I’ll fetch you at seven,” he countered, standing to his impressive height. He looked into her dark eyes. She opened her mouth to protest, but he held up his hand. “It’s not debatable, Miss Stewart.” He turned and left her office and her head reeled at his spicy fragrance that lingered in the air.
Kenzie closed her eyes and shook her head. He was something else, she thought, agitated. She grabbed her bag and prepared to leave, when Sabrina strode into her office, her hands raised in defense.
“I know you’re mad at me for poking my nose into your private life, but I guarantee this man will turn your world around. I can feel it.” Kenzie stared at Sabrina and shook her head, but before she could respond, Sabrina strolled away in a whoosh of material.
Their office suite had its own private elevator which took its staff to an underground parkade. As Kenzie stepped into the lift, a bubble of satisfaction bobbed inside her. Slade Worthington was supposed to fetch her at seven, but she hadn’t given him any details. She smiled in relief as she bounced toward her white BMW 1 series. Her phone rang as she settled behind the wheel. She stared at the unrecognizable number and frowned.
“Hello, this is Kenzie Stewart,” she answered.
“Hello again, Kenzie,” a deep voice caressed her ear.
She gasped and almost dropped the phone. “Mr. Worthington. How—how did you get my number?” she asked.
“Sabrina is quite persistent.”
Her happy bubble burst. “Oh,” she mumbled and put her hand on her forehead. “What can I do for you, Mr. Worthington?”
“You’re reluctant to go out with me, so I’ll make it easy for you. The last thing I want is to make you uncomfortable. If we don’t enjoy each other’s company tonight, I won’t ask you out again. What do you say?” he asked.
Kenzie expelled a deep breath. “I’d prefer if this was a once-off. Do you have my address?” she asked, a slight edge to her voice.
He hesitated. “Fair enough, and yes, I have your address.”
Kenzie shook her head. Of course he did, she thought, angry at Sabrina all over again.
“Okay, Mr. Worthington, I’ll see you at seven.”
“One more thing if I may, Kenzie,” he said, drawing out her name. “Please, call me Slade,” he asked, his voice low.
“Okay—Slade, I’ll see you at seven.”
© 2019 by Yvie F