Encanto (Pinnacle)
November 2000
ISBN 0-7860-1157-2

| Reviews | Excerpt | Press Kit | Story Behind Conquest |

No way is clothing buyer Tess Romero going to let her arrogant co-worker Logan Wilde snatch a major Argentinian account from under her nose!  Determined to prove herself to Logan and their macho boss, she sets out with Logan for remote Patagonia to close the deal.  The last thing she expects is a shipboard romance fueled by steamy days and starry nights.  Swept up in passion, it’s all too easy for Tess and Logan to forget about the cut-throat business world that awaits—a world where only one of them can survive…



"Passion is ignited by this team romance...a riveting read." -- Romantic Times

"Ms. Rios succeeds in bringing out the best in both main characters and leaving the reader wanting more."

"Lara Rios has a nice breezy style to her writing that keeps you interested in her charming characters."
-- Reader to Reader



Getting to Buenos Aires was a long, exhausting adventure in and of itself, but with Logan it became an agonizing test of patience.

He showed up to her home as the sun was just stretching over the horizon. He loaded his and Theresa’s bags into Carla’s van enthusiastically telling both women about the research he’d done on Argentina and what he hoped to see.

At the airport, he insisted on taking control. He assumed responsibility for their airline tickets and passports and checked them both in, ignoring her protests. On the plane, she had to sit beside him for eighteen torturous hours. Although watching him sleep beside her was somewhat appealing. His long eyelashes flecked over his high cheekbones and curled at the ends. At the corners of his eyes, little crevices were softened. His lips, normally thinly stretched out into a smile, were pink and moist. His light brown hair was slightly rumpled. The shadow of unshaven whiskers surfaced on his face. The intimate appearance of her co-worker made her lay her head back and sigh.

When his eyelashes fluttered and his lids opened, it was too late to turn around and pretend she wasn’t watching him, so she stayed put and continued to stare. He looked at her through half open lids for what seemed like hours. In reality, only a few seconds passed.

"Can’t sleep?" Logan whispered in a deep, groggy voice.

"Not on a plane."

"Want to lay your head on my shoulder?"

Theresa smiled despite herself. It was 2:00am, the soft humm of the jet engines was the only sound, the plane was dark, and at the moment, Logan didn’t seem so threatening. "I don’t think that would help me sleep any better."

"Maybe not, but you might enjoy it just the same."

Theresa rolled her head to face away from him. "Don’t worry about me, Logan. You sleep."

"Will you watch over me some more?"

Theresa faced him again about to deny she’d watched him at all, but instead she nodded. "I might. When you’re sleeping is about the only time you’re not being obnoxious."

Logan’s lips twitched slightly. "Awe, Tess, when you say such sweet things to me I get this tight feeling right here." He tapped his chest with this thumb. Then he crossed his arms and focused more awake eyes on her. "Why do you hate me so much?"

Theresa was floored. She wasn’t used to such straightforward questions, especially not at this hour of the morning. Anyhow, she didn’t hate him, not exactly, and she stated as much.

"Oh yes you do. You hate my guts. So tell me why, lets be honest."

Theresa shifted in her seat to face him better. He watched her, a sincere look on his face as he waited for her response.

"For starters, I dislike when you play dumb. You know exactly why we don’t get along."

"Because I get better accounts than you."

"Because you don’t deserve to get them."

"How do you know? You’ve never seen me work." He leaned closer to her.

"Precisely. I’ve never seen you work. You spend half the time you’re in the office flirting and chatting."

He half smiled. "Is it the flirting or chatting that bothers you, or, is it that I don’t do it with you?"

Her indignation consumed what little tiredness she felt. She was fully awake now. "It’s not fair that you waste so many business hours playing when the rest of us are working our bottoms off." She ignored his comment meant to instigate and evade the question.

"Maybe I only need half the time to complete my work. It’s not my fault if it takes you twice as long to do your job."

Theresa straightened. "You impertinent--"

"Hey." He took hold of her hand and leaned across so far, she was pressed against the plane window. "Quiet down, people are trying to sleep."

Theresa wanted to shove him away, but he held her hand tight. "Move away from me, Logan," she warned.

"Why do you have to get so upset? We’re just talking here."

"You’re deliberately baiting me."

"Because it’s so damn easy."

She pulled her hand loose and slammed her elbow on the wall. "Ah, damn it! See what you made me do?"

He smiled which irritated her further. "You should have let me hold your hand. It would have been much less painful."

She glared at him as she rubbed her elbow. "See what I mean? That drives me crazy. Do you have to flirt with every female you see?"

"Now why does that bother you so much?"

Why indeed, it wasn’t any of her business. "It only bothers me because you do it to get what you want. You use that sexy smile to win over the secretaries, receptionists, mail clerk, everyone."

"You think I have a sexy smile, Tess?" he whispered, his voice thick and alluring at this hour, and his warm breath seductive as it touched her shoulder.

"Is that all you heard?" He was so exasperating.

His hand slid back and forth on her leg. "Know what I think? I think it does bother you that I don’t flirt with you."

Did he really think she wanted his sexual attentions? She lifted his hand off her lap and he quickly flipped it, catching her hand in his again.

"Logan, you don’t flirt with me because there’s nothing you want from me. The day you begin flirting I’ll know something’s up."

He pulled her arm, and placed her hand on his knee. "Maybe it’ll mean I’m attracted to you and want to get you in my bed."

"Let go of my hand, Logan. You’re not being funny."

"The reason I’ve never flirted with you is because you’ve placed a ‘do not touch’ sign on your forehead about as big as the Grand Canyon. It’s not because I don’t find you attractive, because I do."

"Wonderful," she said sarcastically, and even though it came out exactly as she’d intended, his words sent an unexpected thrill that reached all the way to her toes.


The Story Behind Conquest

Long before Titanic became such a big Hollywood hit, I dreamed of cruise ship romances.  Something about being out on the ocean under a blanket of stars with someone you love, resonated in my overly romantic heart.

          When my husband suggested we take a holiday cruise from Chile, rounding Cape Horn to Argentina, I knew this was the time to write my very own cruise ship romance.  Not only does a major part of CONQUEST take place aboard a cruise ship, but I was actually able to hand write the first draft while slowly making my way down the Pacific Ocean, as my characters do.  Every morning when I awoke, I went for a jog on the Promenade deck, enjoyed a heavenly breakfast, and then sat outside as the next wave of inspiration drove me to write the next chapter of my book.  Okay . . . it wasn’t that ideal.  I actually had to force myself to sit my bottom down and write.  When there were so many other things I could be doing, sometimes that was difficult, but usually I managed to find three and four hour blocks of time to devote to CONQUEST in between meals.

          Research for CONQUEST was completed first hand each time the ship docked, as well as from picking the brains of relatives once the ship came to it’s final destination, Argentina.  Not having been raised in Argentina, I had a lot to learn about my birth country and this amused my aunts and uncles who still criticize my parents for abandoning the family in pursuit of the American dream.  But that’s another story . . .

          I found that the section of earth called Patagonia holds a certain mystique.  It’s the last wild frontier.  Cold, sparsely populated, barren in places while in others it is teeming with wildlife we only get a chance to see in National Geographic magazines.  I decided it was the perfect place for my characters to be stripped of all the facades of the civilized world and learn to trust in each other and fall in love.

          CONQUEST was my first published book and holds a special place in my heart.  I have many wonderful memories attached to the writing of this book.  I hope you enjoy reading it!