"By day they are all business, by night they find enjoyment"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted October 5, 2017
Multicultural African-American | Romance Contemporary
If Puerto Rico sounds like paradise to you, maybe this
romance will confirm your dream. Nicki Night who writes
great contemporary African American characters mixes it up
with a hospitality and consumer goods conference in the
exotic venue. IT STARTED IN PARADISE introduces Donovan
Rivers, a handsome well-built guy who is all business, and
Jewel and Chloe Chandler, sisters who are in between
romances at present and similarly here to represent their
family business. The girls might be enthused by automated
pie bakers, but Jewel, in particular, is determined to have
some extra-curricular fun.
Chloe, as the eldest of her siblings, had to mature early
and feels she missed out on a lot of fun and games. She knew
Donovan at high school but he was a popular basketball
playing kid, and they hadn't much in common. Now they relax
after a day's meetings, sipping rum cocktails with music and
a beautiful night, and start to get to know each other again.
After they return to work in Manhattan, the two keep in
touch and fit in dates in Washington Square Park, enjoying
each other's company. But the trouble is brewing as
Donovan's family firm is one which Chloe's mother refuses
to let them deal with due to bad feelings. Will this extend
to Donovan and his whole family? Is the growing romance
going to be nipped in the bud?
If you enjoy a book filled with banter between sisters and
respect for hard-working parents, as well as copious detail
on managing the hospitality industry, this tale of the
familiar Romeo and Juliet theme will give you a good read.
I like that the ladies are presented as extremely
professional, and even more so that Donovan and his pals
don't trash-talk about women. Another nice touch is that the
well-off elders of the Chandler family have established a
foundation to share their wealth. They understand what it
means to be given a hand up when you are keen to better
yourself. We come to realize that in top business circles,
the number of people circulating is really quite a tight
little group, and some executives are keen to break into
that group. IT STARTED IN PARADISE, which is in a series
called The Chandler Legacy, is commendable for the strength
of background. Nicki Night will please her readers once more
with this upbeat adult romance.
Two rivals. One desire.
sensual Puerto Rico is the perfect place to combine
with pleasure. Yet Chloe Chandler can't indulge her
attraction to Donovan Rivers when they cross paths at a
convention. Heir to an exclusive Long Island venue,
is vying to host the same A-list gala that her parents'
restaurant hopes to gain. And as events director for her
family's empire, Chloe and her loyalty are being tested by
an intense longing for a man who's determined to win both
her…and the client.
An in-demand bachelor who
plays by his own rules, Donovan never stops until he gets
what he wants. Falling for his beautiful competitor will
anger their families, but Chloe has already sacrificed too
much to please others. Now Donovan intends to show her
everything she's been missing—including the heat of his
embrace. But when the competition comes between them, will
their ambitions force them to lose out on love?
Excerpt“I saw you looking at him,” Jewel Chandler teased her
older sister, sipped her cocktail and then lay back on her
Chloe Chandler choked back a laugh. “I wasn’t looking at
anyone.” Turning her head in the other direction, she
shielded her eyes from the glaring sun. She’d seen him all
right. All six feet four inches of his muscular frame
draped in skin so rich and smooth, it could have been
dripping from a fondue pot.
“Humph! Whatever you say, Sissy.” Jewel waved her off.
“There’s never been anything wrong with looking. It’s the
touching that gets people in trouble! But who am I to tell
you to play by anybody’s rules?”
“Exactly. Now hush!” Chloe laughed. As the oldest, she’d
always been careful to set a good example. Not that it
helped at all. All three of her younger siblings were
rebels in their own rights.
Donovan Rivers jumped into the hotel’s Olympic-size pool,
sliced through the water as smoothly as a knife cutting
ice cream and popped up on the opposite side. The water
cascading down his taut back made Chloe hiss.
Jewel sat up, lifted her wide-brimmed hat meant to block
the sun and tilted her sunglasses downward. “You’re a liar
if you tell me you didn’t see that gorgeousness rise from
that water like a Greek god.” Jewel sat back and chuckled.
Chloe couldn’t help but laugh with her. “No one wants
“And there’s another lie.”
Jewel twisted her lips at Chloe. “Plenty of women want
him. I happen to know a few of them rather well and so do
you. Humph! A woman would be crazy not to want a man like
him or his brother.”
“You know your mother would have an emotional breakdown if
one of us were to mess around with one of those Rivers
boys.” Chloe lay back on her lounger, closed her eyes and
crossed her feet.
“And that is just what makes it so much fun. Forbidden
fruit is always the sweetest!” Jewel snickered.
Chloe sat up. “What?”
She laughed full out this time.
Chloe’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open. “Have you
messed around with one of those Rivers men?” Chloe
wouldn’t put it past her sister.
“Sure did and it was good and so much fun!”
“And you never told me?” Still seated, Chloe parked her
hands on her hips.
“Nope!” Jewel pursed her lips.
Offended, Chloe gasped. There were never any secrets among
the sisters. “When?”
“Last summer and I never said anything because you would
have told me not to do it.” Jewel swung her legs over the
deck chair and faced Chloe. “I wanted to do it. I did it
and I liked it—a lot!” She squealed. “It only lasted a few
delicious weeks but then we moved on. It was more like…”
Jewel thought for a moment “…an extended fling, but it
certainly was fun while it lasted.”
Chloe squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. “I can’t
believe you! Was it Donovan?”
“No. It was Dayton.” Jewel closed her eyes and moaned as
if she’d eaten a decadent bite of dessert.
Chloe giggled, despite feeling snubbed. The talk about the
forbidden rendezvous made her giddy. Her sisters lived
much riskier lives than she ever did. One day she’d take a
page from their book. “I still can’t believe you hid that
juicy little tidbit from me.” Chloe tossed her towel at
Jewel. She blocked it.
“I’m sorry.” Jewel pouted. “Do you forgive me?”
“Of course I do, but don’t ever leave me out of the loop
“Good. I won’t. I promise,” Jewel said before standing.
“You need to get yourself a piece of forbidden action
someday, too. You won’t believe how delightful it can be.”
Jewel slid her arms through her sheer white cover-up.
“Perhaps Donovan could be the perfect candidate.”
“Oh no!” Chloe wagged her finger. “I don’t think so.”
Jewel flashed a sly smile. “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t tell
Chloe rolled her eyes toward the sky. “I’m not indulging
in this foolishness.” She stood, too, grabbed her cell
phone and the magazine she’d intended to read at the
poolside but never opened. “Let’s go get ready for our
“I’m going to get you to loosen up one of these days,
Sissy. You can’t be all work and no play all the time.”
“I have plenty of fun.” Chloe headed toward the hotel but
stopped when she sensed that Jewel wasn’t walking with
She looked back to find Jewel with her hand propped on her
hip, lips twisted and head tilted. She obviously didn’t
agree with Chloe.
“Come on, silly!” Chloe waved her along. “This pavement is
scorching.” She dropped her flip-flops on the ground and
stuck her feet in them.
Jewel fell into stride next to Chloe. “I bet you’ve never
had a one-night stand.”
Chloe’s mouth dropped, then closed quickly. She looked
around to make sure no one else at the resort heard
Jewel’s comment. “No, I haven’t!” She stood erect but then
leaned closer to Jewel. “Have you?” she whispered.
Jewel’s response was a loud cackle. The laugh lasted
several moments. When Jewel was able to catch her breath
and regain her composure, she looked at Chloe pitifully,
shaking her head. Chloe crossed her arms over her chest
and glared back at Jewel.
“Sissy. You’ve got to learn to live a little.”
“I don’t need to have sex with strangers in order to live
a little,” Chloe mocked and then turned abruptly, heading
for the door.
“Don’t be mad. I just want you to have some adventure.”
Jewel trotted after Chloe, “A one-night stand isn’t
necessarily with a stranger. Mine wasn’t.”
Jewel’s words softened Chloe’s resolve. “I’ll show you I’m
capable of being adventurous after we handle business at
this dinner tonight.”
“I’m going to hold you to that.”
Chloe discreetly looked back toward the pool to see if
Donovan was still around.
“I saw that!” Jewel said without losing her stride.
“You saw what?” Chloe feigned innocence.
“You’ve never been a good liar.” Jewel’s shoulders shook
as she chuckled. “He left the pool about five minutes
Chloe decided not to try to deny the fact that she wanted
to get one last glimpse at Donovan’s sculpted body. Jewel
was right. Looking had never hurt anyone. Touching Donovan
was something else altogether.
Chloe had no time for men anyway. Her job kept her busy.
Loving what she did made it easy to work all day long and
sometimes well into the night. Eager to impress her boss,
who was also her mother, she didn’t mind putting in the
Thinking about work brought to mind her reason for
visiting Puerto Rico. As scenic as the views were and as
pleasing as it was to gaze at Donovan’s perfect body from
a distance, she was there for business, not pleasure.
Chloe hadn’t been looking for Donovan Rivers, but as he
was the heir to La Belle Riviere, a coveted venue for
lavish events along Long Island’s Gold Coast, she wasn’t
surprised to see him at the International Food and
Beverage Convention. The little bit of sun she and Jewel
had just soaked up was probably all they would have time
for since their schedules were packed for the rest of
their stay. The next few days were filled with sessions,
business meetings and then the revered awards dinner.
Chloe’s goal was to return home to New York with
strategies for making their restaurant on the pier a more
sought-after venue for high-profile events. Jewel’s goal
was to find out the latest technology in packaging for
their family’s consumer goods dynasty, Chandler Food Corp.
Jewel was also looking into the latest in appliances for
the renovation that their father planned for their
Chloe couldn’t focus on Donovan in any serious manner
anyway. Despite the close proximity in which their
families lived both literally and figuratively, getting
involved with Donovan would be highly problematic due to
the level of hostility that existed between their families
—specifically their mothers.
Elnora, or El as most called her, could hardly stomach the
sight of Donovan’s mother, the refined and oh-so-esteemed
Joliet Rivers. Chloe and her sisters had never been told
of the history behind their situation but they did know
not to socialize with the Rivers children even now as
Donovan was the oldest of his siblings and had always been
extremely attractive. Chloe had her fill admiring him from
Jewel and Chloe showered and were outfitted in dresses
that were comfortable but polished enough for conducting
business. Their dinner meeting would be with a potential
supplier of industrial appliances who wanted to show Jewel
his state-of-the-art equipment. After that, they were
scheduled to have drinks with a consultant who was
interested in helping their family take Chandlers, their
restaurant on the marina where Chloe served as the
director of events, to the next level.
Jewel pushed the call button for the elevator and the
doors opened right up. They stepped in chatting about
their evening. As the elevator doors began to close, a
strong hand reached in and waved. The doors slid back
Donovan’s statuesque frame entered as if he were floating
across the red carpet at an awards show. His well-fitting
gray suit highlighted his broad shoulders and slim waist
and the pleasant scent of his cologne made the small space
“How are you, Jewel?” He nodded. “Chloe.” He nodded again,
winked and his lush lips slid into an easy smile as he
swept Chloe with his gaze from head to toe.
Chloe’s stomach tightened.
“I’m well, Donovan, and you?” Jewel was cheerful. Too
cheerful, Chloe thought.
“Doing well,” he said, still facing Chloe’s direction.
Jewel turned to Chloe also. She still hadn’t responded.
“Donovan.” She nodded in a refined manner, just as her
mother would have.
Jewel and Donovan engaged in small talk for the short
ride. To Chloe, the air in the elevator seemed to have
thinned. She cleared her throat, painted on a regal smile
and held her head high until the doors opened on the lobby
Donovan stepped out first. With his back against the door,
he held his hand out. “After you.”
“Thank you,” the women said in unison.
“My pleasure,” Donovan said with a sexy glance directed at
“We should get together for drinks while we’re out here,”
“We should.” Donovan stepped aside to keep from blocking
the elevator. “What are you doing later tonight?”
“We don’t have anything planned after our meetings,” Jewel
Chloe just smiled.
“Me neither.” Donovan reached inside his suit jacket and
retrieved his cell phone. “Take my number. Let’s confer
when we’re done. I know a great place.”
“Cool!” Jewel took out her phone and tapped in his number.
“Chloe, what’s your number?” Donovan’s voice warmed her
Chloe swallowed and gave it to him.
“Good! I’ll see you ladies later.” Donovan’s light touch
to Chloe’s shoulder sent slight tremors down her back.
“Damn, that man is gorgeous,” Jewel said as he walked
Chloe winced, hoping Donovan hadn’t heard her. “Come on.
We have people waiting for us,” Chloe said, dismissing
Jewel’s acknowledgement of the obvious.
“Maybe he could be your first one-night stand,” Jewel
Chloe stopped walking and swatted Jewel’s arm. “You’re
unbelievable.” She laughed. “That’s not going to happen.”
She continued walking.
“Never say never!” Jewel sang.
Chloe kept her mouth shut but allowed the possibilities to
roll around in her mind even though she couldn’t see it
happening in real life.
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