I write contemporary big-city romance. I’m jumping into RN2 (untitled) with a vengeance.
When Rafe Donovan, San Francisco business magnate, meets boutique owner Jennifer O’Malley, their chemistry is electric. Only thing is, Jen’s the one obstacle between him and the successful acquisition of a valuable block of property for his family’s real estate empire. Without her cooperation, Rafe can’t move forward. However, he won’t lose this deal as he did the last one. He’ll regain the confidence of his brothers—fellow shareholders and partners—no matter what. That’s non-negotiable.
Jen’s worked hard for her dilapidated Victorian house and shop, and she’s not about to sell them to a heartless conglomerate. She alone is responsible for her success, and she likes it that way. Rafe may have money and power, but she has rights and strong relationships with her neighbors on the block. She’ll do whatever it takes to prevent Rafe’s plan to gut and replace single-family homes and small businesses with expensive luxury condos—including mobilizing her friends.
Battle lines drawn, neither can compromise—at first. Rafe overestimates his ability to bring Jen around and believes he’s succeeded, while Jen pays a visit to City Hall and gets a temporary stay against demolition of the buildings. Frustrated by the delay and aware of his brothers’ desire for a swift resolution, Rafe visits Jen and accuses her of deceiving him. “Why would I be honest with you?” she asks. “You’re out to destroy my home and livelihood.”
Despite competing priorities and diametrically opposed goals, their attraction to each other grows. In a bid to change Rafe’s plans for the neighborhood, Jen persuades him to walk it with her. During her vehement defense of the area’s residents and her explanation of her dreams for her small business, including selling her fashion lines in Italy, Rafe develops a better understanding of Jen’s goals. As a result, Jen thinks she’s talked him out of his plans to acquire the block of Victorian buildings.
Jen travels to Venice to meet with the owner of a small chain of high-end clothing stores. To her surprise, Rafe turns up. “I’m here on business, too.” In her rambles throughout the medieval city of footbridges and winding canals, she bumps into him repeatedly and becomes suspicious. Their sexual chemistry increases—and explodes during a fight when Jen discovers Rafe’s business in Venice is to get her signature on a sale of her property: he’s convinced her neighbors to sell and she’s the lone holdout. Their passions ignited, they tumble into bed against their better judgment.
Rafe realizes that, despite their acrimony, he’s developed deep feelings for her.
Filled with regret the next morning, Jen’s surprised and then gratified by Rafe’s declaration that he’s rethought his plans. No longer angling for her agreement to the sale and demolition of her property, he promises to figure out a deal that will work for his family, Jen, and the neighborhood. He wishes her good luck with her big meeting. That evening they celebrate its success and their growing feelings for each other in a romantic evening in the heart of Venice.
Once back in San Francisco, however, Jen discovers that the demolition is still scheduled—at the end of the month. Unbeknownst to Rafe, an inexperienced junior consultant in their family lawyer’s firm failed to wait for necessary authorizations. It was he who greenlighted the destruction of the block of buildings. Outraged, Jen accuses Rafe of lying to her. He withdraws, angry that she doesn’t trust the promise he made in Venice. “We don’t have anything further to discuss,” he tells her.
Believing his brothers must have given the go-ahead for the demolition, Rafe confronts them, only to discover they had nothing to do with it. He realizes the anger he feels is in direct proportion to his feelings for Jen, as do his brothers. “You’ve got it bad,” one observes, and Rafe agrees. Both siblings reassure him they’ve never lost confidence in his business acumen, despite an earlier deal gone south, and together they straighten out the issues with the hapless junior consultant. Rafe presents them with the deal he’s hatched to benefit Jen, her neighborhood, and Donavan Enterprises. “Here’s what I propose …”
Devastated by what she views as Rafe’s betrayal and her abandonment by local residents, Jen pickets in front of her house on the day demolition is scheduled to begin. Her two best friends show up to keep her company, but otherwise, she’s alone—and tired of it. At her bleakest moment, Rafe appears with a new contract. Jen refuses to sign—until he tells her he has revamped the project completely. No longer will the original buildings be razed. Instead, their exteriors will be preserved, their interiors restored and upgraded to code. Some will be converted to luxury condos, while others will be targeted as affordable housing. The contract he hands her stipulates that Jen will retain her house and her property, even as it covers the costs any renovations she wants to make. Jen signs the contract, and Rafe produces a wedding ring. “Deal me into your life,” he begs. Amidst tears of happiness, Jen realizes she’s no longer alone. She has a partner for life in Rafe in her own happily-ever-after ending.