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It Started in Paradise

It Started in Paradise, July 2017
Chandler Legacy #1
by Nicki Night

Harlequin Kimani Romance
224 pages
ISBN: 0373865066
EAN: 9780373865062
Kindle: B01LLP87C0
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
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"By day they are all business, by night they find enjoyment"

Fresh Fiction Review

It Started in Paradise
Nicki Night

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.

Learn more about It Started in Paradise


Two rivals. One desire.  

Stunning, sensual Puerto Rico is the perfect place to combine business 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, Donovan 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?


“I saw you looking at him,” Jewel Chandler teased her older sister, sipped her cocktail and then lay back on her lounge chair.

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 Donovan.”

“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 again.”

“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 anyone.”

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 dinner meeting.”

“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 her.

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 ago.”

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 extra hours.

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 company’s kitchen.

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 adults.

Donovan was the oldest of his siblings and had always been extremely attractive. Chloe had her fill admiring him from a distance.

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 open.

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 mannishly aromatic.

“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 level.

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 Chloe.

“We should get together for drinks while we’re out here,” Jewel said.

“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 said. 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 ears.

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 away.

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 teased.

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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