One Final Step

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Press: Harlequin; Lgr edition (October 2, 2012)
Publication Date:2012-10
Author Name:Doyle, Stephanie


A new image…step by stepWho said moving forward is easy? Car thief turned race car driver, Michael Langdon has worked hard to build his image. 
Now to take it to the next level and become a successful manufacturer, he needs to kick that image up a notch.
Enter Madeleine Kane, a genius at adjusting public perception.
With her in charge, he's guaranteed to look better while keeping his darkest secrets where they belong—in the past.Doesn't take long, however, for his ambition to change and the campaign to become personal.
Because he wants Madeleine—as beautiful as she is talented and smart.
First, Michael must overcome her reservations about crossing professional boundaries and persuade her he's worth the risk…without revealing those buried parts of himself.
Good thing he's very persuasive.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Michael Langdon looked at the woman on the opposite side of his wide desk and felt as if he'd been struck on the head with a bat. 
Having previously experienced such a sensation, he felt it was an accurate description.
But looking at her was far less painful.She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.
He knew in that moment—she was going to change his life.Then he shook off the ridiculous thoughts.
Just as he'd shaken off the effects of actually being hit by the bat.
Only, there was still a buzzing in his head and as he took notice of his body, he found himself shifting in his chair and wondering."I'm surprised you accepted my invitation," he said.He watched as her right eyebrow arched, slightly framing a perfectly shaped cobalt-blue eye.
The color was everything he'd heard about and read about.
And it was more amazing than anything he'd seen on television.
Cobalt-blue eyes combined with dark, long hair that had reddish highlights he suspected were real.
Her skin looked as if it would feel silky to the touch and her lips were full enough to make a man think of the things men usually liked to think about when it came to a woman's mouth.
Her chin was slightly pointed, a small flaw that prevented her from being a goddess yet at the same time made her that much more intriguing because it meant she was real and not mythical."Ben Tyler is a personal friend, as well as my employer.
When he asked as my employer, I refused.
When he asked as a friend, I had no choice."Her voice was cool and clipped.
Sophisticated and well balanced.
Everything an Ivy League education should produce."How is Ben doing?"She turned her head.
"Not well."Michael nodded.
He'd known about the cancer, of course, but Ben was one of the toughest fighters he'd ever met.
If anyone had a chance of beating it, it was Ben.
He would be that one man in a million."I called him because I needed the best.
Because what I'm about to do is very important.
Not for me or my company but for the country.
Maybe even the world."She didn't smirk or look away.
A woman like Madeleine Kane understood events that impacted the world.Michael knew by her silence that he was being invited to make his pitch.
It was like being granted permission to speak by the queen.
He shifted in his chair again, then placed both elbows on the desk and clasped his hands together."I've created something.
A car that I believe will revolutionize the industry.
I need to convince people it's real and credible and not another Langdon prototype or an interesting anomaly.""Why do you care what people think? You have an idea…you should build it and sell it.""I can't do it alone." He sighed.
"I wish I could.
I don't have the resources the bigger companies do.
I don't want this to be a highend car that only a few can afford.
I want to make it available to the masses.
For that I need a partner.
To get one of those, I need to rebuild my image.
It's time to lose the old race-car persona and focus on who I am as an inventor and industry leader."Madeleine crossed her legs slowly.
He couldn't help but let his gaze follow the length of her panty-hose-clad leg to the simple black three-inch pump.Her ankle was a work of art."Did you hear me?"Michael lifted his gaze."I said what you're asking for won't be easy.
Your reputation has been very firmly established in the American media as a playboy.
Someone who builds fast cars and dates.""Fast women?""I was going to say well-known actresses.
I would never speculate on a woman's sexual proclivities because she happens to be pretty."No, Michael thought.
You wouldn't."You're known for your flair and style," she continued.
"Not for your substance, Mr.
I'm sorry to be so blunt.""No, please.
It's why I brought you here.
I need you to fix me.
I need you to help me show my substance to the world—otherwise when I talk about this design to the media they won't listen.
I need them to listen.
My competitors, other industry leaders, and I suspect maybe even the government, will all want to know the potential of what I have to offer.""You're talking about an electric car.
It's not the first of its kind.
You're going to have to give me more than that if you want to convince me.""More than that? It's not enough that I'm willing to pay you?"Again the eyebrow rose nearly into the center of her forehead.
How did she do that and why did it make him feel half his size?"I don't need money, Mr.
The work I do currently for Ben pays my bills sufficiently.
You're asking me to remake you.
To create a new story for you.
Something I haven't done in a long time, but the last time I did do it, that man became president.
If you want to convince me to take you on, I'm going to have to believe in what you're doing.
More importantly, I'm going to have to believe in you."Yes, he thought.
He wanted that.
He wanted this woman to believe in him, although for the life of him he couldn't figure out why that was important."Okay, first of all, I'm not talking about just an electric car.
My design will not only be affordable but will have a much higher sustained energy output, and can be built with the factories we have now.
I'm talking about a fully integrated computer that can make real-time driving decisions.
I'm talking about no more accidents." He paused for a breath, feeling the excitement he always did when he started talking about his baby."go on.""I'm talking about a car that can drive itself.
And I can do it cheaper than anyone else.
Which means bringing a product to the masses within the next two to five years.
Other companies trying to accomplish the same thing are projecting seven to ten years.
I'm talking about the future, only making that future happen today."He waited while she considered him for a time.
"You are certainly very passionate about this, Mr.
Langdon.""I'm very passionate about a great many things, Ms.Kane."She didn't like that.
He could see it right away in her face.
He hadn't intended the sexual innuendo, but it was there, and instantly her body reacted by tightening subtly."My project and helping the environment—""Partying, women, scandals."He wasn't going to defend nor explain his behavior.
"Look, are you going to take the job or not?""We still have more to discuss.
First, what do you envision I will do for you?"Impatiently Michael leaned back in his chair.
It had been a while since he'd been in a position other than complete and total power.
Finding himself on the other side of the coin was surprisingly…uncomfortable.
Yet he needed this woman, so she controlled the shots.He didn't like it and part of him wanted to escort her contained and cool self to the door.
However, the idea of watching her leave didn't sit well with him, either.
Which was ridiculous.
Of course she had to leave."I guess you would do what you do best.
Rebuild my image, create a persona the media will respond to, send the message to the world about who I am and what I'm about.
Give me direction on how I go about interacting with the public and the media.
Isn't that what you did for… him?"Michael shouldn't have added the emphasis on the last word.
It had been a jab at her for making him feel weaker than he was.
She was already reaching for the briefcase she'd set down next to her chair."Sorry," he said before she could stand.
"I don't play games.
Not in business.
You're one of the most talented political handlers in the world.
That's why I want you.
To remake my image.
To get me elected—if not by the people then by my peers, the people who judge me.""I was a political handler.
Now I write position papers for political action committees that contract with the Tyler Group.
You don't need a thesis from me.
You need someone who would work closely with you to reshape your image.
That means event planning, cultivating certain media contacts and any number of other tasks.""Yes," he agreed.
"That can't be you?"She looked around his office.
He knew she saw money in the furniture, in the artwork.
Detroit wasn't necessarily a city known for elegance and riches, but it was his home—always had been, even when he lived overseas.
When he'd decided to start his own company there wasn't even a question about doing so here, but that didn't mean he was coming back to the Detroit he knew as a kid.
His new Detroit was filled with all the things his money could buy."You said it wasn't about the money, but I'll pay anything Ben demands," he said.
But she already knew that money was not an issue.No response.
It agitated him."I'll do everything you say," he offered.
"Within reason, of course."Still he could see her mulling it over in that big brain of hers."Not for nothing, but I would think you get sick of writing papers all day.
Don't you want to get back to doing what you love? You're a kingmaker, for crying out loud.
Not a research-policy wonk."That played.
Her eyes lit up.
"can you give me until tomorrow to consider your offer?"This time she was asking his permission.
This he preferred.
"Of course.
Can I ask what your reservations are?""Truthfully?""I think I was very truthful with you just now.""You're a man who spends his life in the spotlight.
You have been since you won your first Formula One race.
The spotlight is not something I'm…comfortable with.
If I accept your offer—and that is a decidedly big 'if'—you have to understand that all my guidance and d...


Romance,Contemporary,Literature & Fiction,United States

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Comment List (Total:4)

  •     Doyle is, for me, the best super romance writer. I love her books and how compellingly readable they are, while really stretching, in the best way, the boundaries of what contemporary romance can be. She's an auto-buy author for me and I'm excited to read the next book.
  •     I loved this book - I loved the modern voice, the depth of emotion and conflict for both characters. The characters I felt were real people who behaved as real people would. Highly recommend!!
  •     Still reeling from the scandal that destroyed her career when she was caught with married POTUS, image consultant Madeleine Kane accepts Michael Langdon as a client. Her job is to change his image from playboy to serious car designer. Michael needs the change in order to team up with another vehicle manufacturer to mass produce his environmentally friendly car; she needs the job to redeem her image from the White House fiasco.They are perfect for each other as she helps him move passed what happened when he served time as a teen and he helps her move past the scandal. As they mentally heal, they fall in love. However each is reluctant to change the professional to the personal, but especially Madeleine who went down that path.One Final Step is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two flawed individuals who find their relationship helping them to heal even before love accelerates their respective will-being. Character driven, fans will enjoy this engaging tale while wondering whether M&M can take that One Final Step.Harriet Klausner
  •     Michael Langdon did not have the most auspicious start in life. Growing up on Detroit's infamous 8 Mile, Michael used cars to escape the reality around him. After serving time for theft, he once again used cars to escape reality, and forget the horrors behind him. From car thief to racing legend didn't seem too far of a jump, but now he needs another image make-over: to mechanical innovator and corporate poster boy. An old friend sends him the best publicist in the business, now all Michael has to do is convince her to take a chance on him...and not let her get too close to the truth.Madeline Kane is a King Maker. Once a highly respected member of the political scene, she let one moment of weakness get the better of her judgement, and it destroyed everything. Now, seven years later, she has been called back in to service by her employer as a favor to an old friend. but can she work with such a high profile man without getting sucked back into the nightmares of the past?This story surprised me by how captivating it was. Both characters suffer from serious PTSD from their experiences, but what really got me was the heart break that occurs when one of them manages to pull out of it and realizes that they can't "fix" the other one. To love someone so much and not be able to help them hurts, but then to know that they won't even try to help themselves is just killer.His dark secret was a shocker; her dark secret was not so much a secret but a confession. Either way, both of these characters are deserving of pity, and neither want it. He doesn't want people to know about it, and she doesn't want people to even remember she exists.My favorite part in this book was actually the sub-plot involving Ben and Anna, Madeline's boss and his assistant. Their issue helps to mellow Madeline out and put her life into perspective, but it also gives us a glimpse at the next book.Overall, it's surprisingly and fun and sexy read. The subject matter should keep it from being sexy, but it really doesn't. In fact, it brings a larger intensity to it all. Warning on the language, though. He grew up on 8 Mile and spent time in prison. Expect cursing.

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