Thursday, February 22, 2024

EXCERPT REVEAL - The Surrogate by Penelope Ward #excerptreveal #agegap #foundfamily #enemiestolovers #contemporaryromance #romancereaders

Title: The Surrogate
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Age Gap/Widower/Found Family
Forbidden/Enemies to Friends to Lovers
Release Date: February 26, 2024

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward comes a new, STANDALONE novel…
I’m falling for the father of the baby I’m carrying.

The problem is: it’s not my baby.

And the broody widower is not looking for a long-term partner.

As a surrogate, the deal was that I’d only be in England long enough to give birth.

At first, the man seemed as pretentious as his name: Sigmund Benedictus.

He and I butted heads.

Sig challenged my intentions, accused me of just wanting to do this for the money.

Gradually, he learned to trust me.

He even became protective.

Over time, our heated animosity turned into fiery chemistry.

I was falling in love with him.

But my time here had a limit.

I needed to protect my heart from the devastatingly gorgeous older man who’d end up breaking it.

When my in-laws told me they wanted to use my dead wife’s eggs to conceive a grandchild, I wasn’t immediately on board.

They swore that on her deathbed Britney told them it was what she wanted—but only if I fathered the baby. Her parents insisted they would be the ones to raise it.

Against my better judgment, I agreed.

I vowed to keep my heart out of it, though.

I’d continue to pretend it wasn’t happening and live the empty, single life I’d become accustomed to the past five years since Britney died.

And despite the fact that a certain younger American named Abby Knickerbocker had awakened things inside me that I thought were long dead…

I most certainly wouldn’t fall in love with the surrogate.
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Copyright © 2023
By Penelope Ward
My phone rang, and I looked down to find it was Lourdes, a woman I’d hung out with over a year ago. She’d been texting me lately to get together, and I’d been ignoring her messages. I silenced the ringer.

“Who was that?” Abby asked.

“Someone named—none of your business.”

“A woman? Is that why you’re in such a rush to get back to London?”

“Trust me, I haven’t met anyone worth rushing anywhere for.”

“Well, excuse me, Mr. Picky.”

I rolled over a bit to face her, resting my chin on my hand. “You think it’s odd to be selective?”

“I don’t think you’re being selective. I think you’re closed off to everyone. There’s a difference.”

“You seem to have me pegged, but what about you? Why are you single?”

“I had a bad experience, as I think I’ve mentioned, and haven’t felt like having my heart toyed with again.”

“How long ago was that? The guy who broke up with you…”

“Nearly three years now.”

“But you’ve dated since that breakup.”

“Yeah. There’ve been a few brief…”

“Hookups?” I arched a brow.

“I guess I can admit that now that you’re not actively assessing my character.”

“Why would I judge you for that? Sex is natural—necessary for survival, if you ask me.”

“You just don’t want to have anything to do with the women after.”

Unable to deny it, I shrugged. “There haven’t been that many women since Britney. At least nothing compared to when I was younger. Most of the time, I meet someone and decide not to go through with anything. But of the encounters I have had, yeah, it’s never mattered whether I saw them again.”

“What was different about Britney? I mean, when you met her? How did you know she was the one?”

My chest constricted. “I’d love to be able to give you a less cliché answer—because I hate clichés—but I just knew. After about an hour together, I never wanted to be apart from her.”

“Fair enough. They say that’s what happens sometimes. You just know.”

“You’ve never experienced that?”

“Nope.” Abby shook her head. “Still waiting for it to happen to me.” She smiled. “Anyway, for the record, I don’t just hook up with people randomly, like some people.” She elbowed me. “I have to know them first.”

“Knowing you, Abby, I can’t imagine you not asking someone a million questions before you sleep with them.”

“Well, yeah. I need to know who I’m dealing with. I’m not going to waste my time with anyone who’s not a good person—even if I’m wildly attracted to them.”

“Sometimes less is more,” I mumbled.

“This from the man who interrogated me the first time he met me.”

“Well, I need to know a bit more about someone who’s going to be carrying my child than I would someone I’m merely going to...”

“F*ck?” She finished my sentence.

The word on her tongue gave me an unwanted thrill. I wouldn’t have minded hearing her say it a few more times, which probably meant I needed my head checked.

“You wanna go?” she asked.

Somehow I’d forgotten my urgency to leave. I’d become pretty comfortable in this spot on the hay. It wasn’t about the hay at all, though, was it?

“Well, now you’ve made me lazy. You’re a bad influence, Knickerbocker.”

She leaned her head on her hand. “Why don’t you just sleep at the inn tonight? Lavinia loves your company.”

“She’ll be conked out by the time we get back there, but I suppose you have a point. At this hour, I might as well just drive into London with you in the morning.”

“You keep work clothes at The Bainbridge, right?”

“Yes. I have everything I need in my room.” I looked out through the barn door. It was now completely nightfall. “Now that it’s dark, you need to be careful driving back.”

“You’ll be behind me anyway, in case I run into trouble, right?”

“Well, you won’t find me driving in front of you ever again,” I teased.

“Good one.” She laughed as she stood and brushed off her dress. “Can you turn around for a minute?”

I narrowed my eyes but did as she asked. “Okay…why am I doing this?”

A few seconds passed. “All good now.”

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“You promise not to make fun of me?”

“No. But tell me anyway.”

“I had a piece of hay stuck in my underwear.” She flashed a goofy smile.

And then…I laughed for what felt like the first time in years.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over forty books. Her novels have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
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