Mon
Jul 24 2017 2:00pm

First Look: Jennifer Probst’s All or Nothing at All (July 25, 2017)

All or Nothing At All by Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst
All or Nothing At All (The Billionaire Builders #3)
Gallery Books / July 25, 2017 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital 

Over the years I’ve read my fair share of secret-baby-books. It’s such a profound dilemma. What were the circumstances of the pregnancy? Why couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t the mother share the news that she is with child with the baby’s father? In their circle of family and friends, who’s in on the secret? What finally causes the truth to come out? These are not light-hearted topics, especially years afterward. All or Nothing At All is the final Billionaire Builders book—and it's time for Tristan Pierce’s story.

Jennifer Probst has given us a great run with the Billionaire Builders series, starting with Everywhere and Every Way. As I noted at the time, what’s not to love about men who work with their hands *ahem* using smarts and passion? Cal was the hero of Everywhere and Every Way. After the death of their father, it’s Cal who persuades his two younger brothers to abide by the edict in their father’s will: the three men must run Pierce Brothers together for a year—and make a profit. Only then can they walk away, if they choose, from the family business. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The prologue plunges right in to the youthful romance between Tristan and Sydney Green, the young girl who has adored him all her life. Seven years earlier, they were in the throes of a passionate affair.

“Give me everything.”

She couldn’t fight his words or his body. His hands gripped her hips. His amber eyes glinted with masculine demand as he pushed her higher, wringing agonizing pleasure with each step toward climax, and she gave up, gave in, and let him catch her as she shattered with release.

He followed her over, groaning her name, and she clung to him with a vulnerable need she tried to desperately hide in the light of day.

Sydney is vulnerable, yes, because she has learned she is pregnant and she senses Tristan is “slipping further away with each passing day.” But she holds out hope that “when he knew about the baby, things would change. They’d get better.” Because of family circumstances, Tristan is in a tough spot. After the shocking death of his wife, Tristan’s father unleashes his unreasonable, tyrannical demands on his three sons and Tristan, the middle son, has had enough.

“I have to tell you something, Syd.”

She gathered her courage. “I have to tell you something, too,” she said quietly.

It’s the worst news: he tells her he’s leaving.

“I’m done with this family. Done with this town. My asshole father just informed me he refuses to let me buy the real estate I wanted to flip. He wants me to be like Cal. To take his orders and build his cookie-cutter houses for the rest of my life. My own brother took his side, and we just had a blowout.”

Although Sydney hates “the weak whine to her voice,” she has to ask. What about their relationship? Pierce asks her to come with him but all she can think is that he’ll be trapped.

She’d go to New York and have his baby, and he’d be miserable. Or he’d decide to stay to be a father and be miserable. She’d be a mistake, along with his child.

No way. She tells Pierce that she doesn’t want to go to New York, that she likes her home and her job at Pierce Brothers. Nor is she willing to leave her grandmother, who raised her. Sydney’s mother was a junkie, her father was absent from her childhood—if not for her grandparents, her childhood would have been even more miserable. Even so, she always felt unwanted. Her baby will never feel that way—she says goodbye to Pierce and keeps the news she’s pregnant to herself.

Seven years later, Sydney is an integral part of the successful Pierce Brothers operation. She’s got plans and dreams of her own: specifically, to be promoted to CFO. They say “clothes maketh the man” and that’s also true for the woman who has run Pierce Brothers for years as executive assistant and "general office guru.” Sydney knows her demand will shock the brothers (particularly one) but she has no time for nerves.

She walked back into her office with her coffee, her Jimmy Choo high heels sinking into the plush carpet. She’d dressed to impress in her designer Donna Karan apple-green suit and even managed to pin up her crazed curls in a semblance of professionalism. Her blacked-framed glasses added a flair of style and seriousness.

She couldn’t be more prepared: she’s armed with a PowerPoint presentation, pastries from Andrea’s Bakery, and she has the numbers down cold. What is it about a “deep, cultured voice” saying “Morning” that causes her to spill coffee from her mug onto her jacket? It’s Pierce, always an early riser. He’s “familiar yet deadly, to both her past and her present.” Has anything changed?

She still hated the little leap of her heart when she was in his company, but it’d just become part of her routine. Kind of like eating and breathing.

A year after his return, you’d think the awkwardness and discomfort would ease. Sydney, however, is feeling “discomfort in the form of sexual torture.” Nevertheless, she has a plan to sell to her bosses—unbeknownst to the men, an outside developer has asked her to take the lead on renovating eight derelict houses. It’s a huge opportunity.

“Adam trusts me. He knows I’ll retain his vision and be the main contact throughout the project. The only way he’ll allow Pierce Brothers the job is if I’m in charge. And the only way I’ll agree to be in charge is if you promote me to CFO.”

Mic drop! Boom. Unsurprisingly, it’s Pierce that has objections—he still feels betrayed by her refusal to go to New York City with him. Or perhaps that’s not what’s bothering him.

If he concentrated on that truth, it was easier to ignore the persistent electricity crackling between them and the low thrum of arousal beating through each cold, deliberate word spoken.

Just lingering stuff from the past, he told himself.

If past is prologue, the relationship between Sydney and Pierce is far from over. They make an irresistible couple, drawn together like a couple of magnets, particularly when Pierce’s brothers tell him he’ll be the one working alongside Syd on the renovation project. Watch out for sparks and enjoy the ride!

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of All or Nothing At All by Jennifer Probst, available July 25, 2017:

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H&H Editor Picks:

Author Jennifer Probst on Complete Opposites in Romance/a>

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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Helen MacInnes. I also review at Criminal Element.

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