Forbidden to His Touch (Harlequin LP Presents Series #3052)

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Overview

Rafael Cheves is a man tortured by his gut-wrenching past and tempted by a future he dare not even dream about. Knowing he'll never deserve the only woman he ever wanted, Raf will make sure she stays as far away from him as possible.

But when Sophia Turino, the daughter of the man who raised Rafael from the gutter, stands before him seven years later, she's even harder to resist—confident, successful and as intoxicatingly beautiful as ever. ...

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Overview

Rafael Cheves is a man tortured by his gut-wrenching past and tempted by a future he dare not even dream about. Knowing he'll never deserve the only woman he ever wanted, Raf will make sure she stays as far away from him as possible.

But when Sophia Turino, the daughter of the man who raised Rafael from the gutter, stands before him seven years later, she's even harder to resist—confident, successful and as intoxicatingly beautiful as ever. It's time for Raf to obliterate his darkly powerful infatuation….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373238224
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Series: Harlequin LP Presents Series , #3052
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Larger Print
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Natasha Tate's romantic side has its roots in childhood. As an army brat and perennial new kid, she consumed a romance book a day, hiding them within her textbooks. This habit persisted into college, despite her more academic pursuits, equipping her with the know-how to tame her own alpha male hero. Now that she's married and an author for Harlequin, she lives her dream of crafting fairytale romances set in modern-day, larger-than-life settings. Visit her at www.NatashaTate.com.

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Read an Excerpt

"You have to talk to her."

Rafael Chaves looked up from where he crouched over a grapevine to see his employer's normally placid features reddened with anger and distress. Without even asking, Rafael knew the her to whom Dante Turino referred. Only one female had the ability to bring the burly patriarch of California's premiere vineyard to such an agitated state. "About what?"

Turino paced tightly, his boots kicking up dust and his beefy hands clenching fistfuls of sunlit air. "That fool child won't listen to reason!"

Having worked since dawn in the fields, Rafael was tired to the bone and filthy. But no amount of mental or physical fatigue could ever fully distract him from the sweet torture of Sophia's presence in the villa on the hill overlooking the vineyard. He was as aware of her as he was of his own breath, of the rough calluses on his palms, his big, hulking body and its brutal hands that possessed a capacity for violence too terrible to contemplate. "I don't understand," he said in a carefully neutral voice as he slowly straightened.

"She's leaving me. Leaving California. Says she's moving to London and building a life of her own."

Rafael stopped breathing.

Turino blinked furiously, his irritation and frustration stamped upon his features. "She's already purchased her tickets and is packing her bags as we speak."

Rafael's lungs tightened and the heavy thud of his pulse quickened beneath his ribs.

"I forbade her to go. But she claimed she was an adult now and that she didn't need anyone to take care of her." Turino's infuriated expression betrayed how impotent he felt in the face of Sophia's rebellion. "My Sophia, an adult? She's just a child!"

The warm scent of soil and ripening grapes filled Rafael's nostrils as he sucked in a sharp breath and forcibly relaxed his jaw and hands. Sophia had been an adult for a few years now, a fact that continued to haunt Rafael's thoughts and dreams while escaping her oblivious father's notice entirely.

Turino spun on his heel to pace a tight circle in the tilled row of black earth, plowing his fingers through his wiry gray hair, while anger at losing his cosseted daughter etched deep grooves from his nose to his mouth. "Why would she do this to me?"

Rafael held himself utterly still, allowing his expression to betray none of his thoughts. "I couldn't say, sir."

"Haven't I given that girl everything?"

Though Rafael knew the question was rhetorical, he also knew the gruff American who'd saved his life so many years ago was blind when it came to his only child. "Of course you have," he assured Turino. "But you know how Sophia is. Stubborn to the core."

"I warned her that if she left, she'd no longer be my daughter. That I'd cut her off and never forgive her."

Rafael was sure Sophia had recognized the truth of her father's words as easily as he had. "That didn't change her mind?"

The big man seemed to deflate before Rafael's eyes, his grief already bowing his shoulders. "No. She just frowned in that little way of hers, said she was saddened by my inability to wish her well, and then returned to her packing."

Rafael could see that Sophia's insistence on leaving had wounded Turino more than he cared to admit, and Rafael's inability to ease his mentor's pain sent a flare of distress through his veins. But what could he, a bastard and a nobody, possibly do to help?

"You will change her mind for me, won't you?"

Rafael's stomach clenched at the thought of being close enough to Sophia to try. "I don't think—"

"Please? She'll listen to you."

"No," he blurted, a jolt of panic making the word come out more harshly than he'd intended. "She won't. Not anymore." Sophia had craved his company during the summers of her childhood, when vacations at the vineyard had been the highlight of her year. She'd listened with rapt attention while trailing after him, his world such a marked contrast to the London boarding schools she attended during the year.

She'd even listened to him after her mother's death, when the adjustments of adolescence and grief had cast Rafael in the role of friend, protector and confidant. And he'd allowed her friendship, knowing it kept Sophia from interrupting her busy father with her woes. For years, they'd been inseparable…until things between them had irrevocably changed.

Until she'd matured into a woman with ripe curves, golden curls and an intoxicating blend of innocence and sensuality that turned every male head in the valley. Until he'd called a halt to their proximity in order to keep his forbidden longing for her hidden.

"You have to try," Turino insisted, hauling Rafael's thoughts back to the conversation at hand.

Though Rafael didn't ever verbalize his sense of obligation to Turino, they both knew he would do anything for him. Anything. But he couldn't risk revealing the way his entire body was attuned to Sophia's slightest movement, how his wretched heart clubbed like a runaway horse whenever she was near. As it was, when he caught so much as a glimpse of her, he felt his tenuous control waver. Weaken. She was far too fine for someone of his debased origins, and he had to remind himself of that fact multiple times each day. Countless times each night. "You overestimate the influence I have over her, sir."

"No. You're the one who underestimates it," Turino snapped, moving forward to grip Rafael's forearm with his thick fingers. "Your opinion matters to her. You know it does. That girl has worshipped you for years."

Torn between the conflicting desire to assist the man to whom he owed everything and the need to maintain a safe distance from Sophia, Rafael fought to deny Turino's request. "It won't work," he claimed. "You know she—"

"If the life you've lived here means anything to you, if I mean anything to you," Turino warned, "you'll try. You'll talk to her."

Ten minutes later, Rafael had washed the worst of the dirt and grime from his skin, changed his shirt and climbed the wide steps of the main villa's staircase. He hesitated at the top step, his pulse thundering loudly in his ears while his hands gripped the polished rosewood banister.

He knew from the single time he'd visited Sophia's rooms four years ago, when she'd been ill and asked for him, that her door was the last one on the right. He knew the large, square space was crowded with antique wood furniture, hundreds of books, bright, cheerful rugs and countless yards of white, billowing cotton.

He remembered the way her hair had spread in a gilded fan upon her pillow, the sweet curve of her fevered cheek, the bright blue eyes and the fragile wings of collarbone beneath her long, pale throat. He remembered how small she'd looked in her big white bed and the way her mouth had curved up in an innocent smile when she'd seen his hulking frame at her door.

He remembered, too, the way her guileless expression had changed and shifted, the way she had grown pink and bashful the minute she'd read the hunger in his eyes. It had only taken the one time for her to stop seeing him as the boy her father had saved. One unguarded moment for her to realize that he had become a man.

Glancing at her opened doorway, knowing that she stood mere steps away from his looming presence, every muscle in his body drew taut. His breath thinned and heat coiled in his veins. He stalled, frozen in a purgatory of indecision while his blunt fingernails gouged dents in the banister's polished varnish.

He wasn't certain how long he stood before he braced his shoulders, hauled in a fortifying breath and strode toward the one woman with the power to threaten his control. Stopping at her doorway, he stood in silence for several long moments, watching her as she prepared to leave. He swallowed against a thickened throat while her scent—an intoxicating blend of black currant, citrus and warm ce-darwood—robbed him of speech. He'd forgotten how she smelled, had willed his mind to erase the memory of her flushed skin, bright eyes and the cool press of her slim fingers against his rough, hair-dusted arm.

"Sophia."

"Raf," she said without turning. "This is certainly a surprise. Did Papa send you to change my mind?" Her voice, soft and smooth, wound around his chest and tightened.

Hard.

"You can't leave like this," Rafael answered as he fought to sound calm. Unaffected. Separate.

Sophia closed her eyes and inhaled slowly, struggling not to react. Rafael hadn't spoken to her in so long, it took all her strength to continue packing as if his presence didn't affect her. It required all her will to not betray the swell of longing and frustration that collected beneath her skin.

"Did you hear me?" he growled. The bulwark of his tempered anger heated her bowed back and coiled low in her stomach.

"Of course I did." She didn't lift her head, her hands methodical and unhurried as she tucked silk shirts, tailored business suits and toiletries into her bag. "But I don't have time to waste. My flight leaves in less than three hours."

"Exactly. You're being impulsive. Impulsive and irrational, just like always." He strode toward her and she tensed. He didn't touch her, though she could feel his desire to stop her preparations crackling in the slim space of air separating them. It sparked a futile urge to drive him to the point where he'd forfeit his perfect restraint enough to grip her between his big, square palms. To close the distance that yawned between them like some impassable chasm.

She wanted him to touch her, to pull her away from the evidence of her pending departure and demand that she stay. With him. She wanted him to lose control of the emotions that he kept so carefully hidden beneath his beautiful, austere features and let her in. But she knew he wouldn't. The past four years had taught her that once he'd made up his mind, there was no changing it. "I'm leaving," she told him. "Whether you agree with my decision or not."

"What are you trying to prove?"

"Prove?" she repeated before straightening and then turning to face him. She abandoned her opened suitcase and strode past him to shut her bedroom door. As much as she knew it unnerved him to be alone with her, she refused to grant him an easy escape. Not when this was her last chance to speak with the man who'd stolen her heart so long ago. "Why don't you tell me, Raf? What do you think I'm trying to prove by abandoning my life, my home and the only real family I have left?"

Rafael didn't visibly react to the closed door or her questions, remaining as still as stone as he tracked her movements. But color rose to darken the crests of his cheeks and his black eyes flashed with an agitation that contrasted with his usual aura of calm control. She was reminded of the ferocious youth her father had saved from the streets, the orphan who'd lived by his wits and will before fate intervened. Before life on the Turino lands had civilized him.

"What? No response?" she asked, coming to a stop before his big, tense body. She hadn't seen him exhibit the snarling emotions of his past for a long, long time, and she knew she was pushing him further than was wise. But desperate times called for desperate measures. "No appeal to my sense of duty, my reason, or my loyalty to a father who's ordered me to stay?"

He merely glared at her, his jaw clenched tight while his stony expression concealed any hint of soft emotion. The hard exotic lines of his Brazilian features and the cold, immutable control he exerted made her long for the days of their youth, when he hadn't minded being alone with her. Before he had become so closed off all the time.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Desere Book provided by the author for review Review

    Reviewed by Desere
    Book provided by the author for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book


    The third book by a fabulous author! This plot is even hotter than the books before. I loved every second of this one. It had passion like no other, love and intrigue and best of all one heck of a set of characters.

    I loved reading how Rafael overcomes his hardships that life has dealt him and made him into the strong man he has become. Even more I loved reading about Sophia.  She is the woman that all woman from around the world want to be, smart, funny, successful, confident and to Rafael, simply irresistible.

    The way the author smoothly guides you into the lives of the characters is done with such beautiful elegance that I was completely stunned that I actually felt like I could grab them and give them such a shake to wake them out of their “I’ll resist you mode”!

    Another thing I loved about this book was the fact that the author does not drag out the story.  She gets to a point and gets to it quickly, where as some Harlequin books take a family secret/scandal or scene and drag it on for almost 4 chapters, not this author she keeps your attention on every page and ensures that I never lost interest.


    Favorite Quote: “One of these days your going to believe me,one of these days your going to trust me”.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Rafael Chaves was a most unusual hero in Forbidden to His Touch


    Rafael Chaves was a most unusual hero in Forbidden to His Touch. I had to hold my breath while reading the first chapters of this brilliant love story as is was so unique for this “tortured” man. He would do anything for Dante Turino, anything as there was an unspoken agreement between them because Dante had saved Rafael’s life, had given him a home. However, poor Rafael was tortured by Sophia, Dante’s daughter. Honestly, they were both tortured from the time they were teenagers, they both wanted each other but it was forbidden.

    What can one say about Sophia Turino? She had been spoiled all of her life by a doting father. However, she loved Rafael with her entire being and he broke her heart, each time she tried to approach him and share her feelings. In the end, in a fit of rage, she left her father and home and moved to London. Each time she tried to approach her father; he disowned her so when he died she returned home to California and the family business, a successful winery.

    Natasha Tate is an amazing author and she takes their journey to so many levels. For Sophia her painful journey of loving a man who refused to love her back. Her father, who she felt never, loved her. Especially during her adult years when she pushed herself so hard to make him proud of her, to notice her. Time and time again she felt the two men in her life, Rafael and her father, what would it take to get their attention? Leave?

    What was hardest for me to read was Rafael’s painful childhood and how much he loved Dante, the man who rescued him, gave him a new meaning for living. Raf was devoted to Dante and the winery and had helped to make it a success. Now that Dante was gone, he had to deal with Sophia’s return and her desire to work side by side with him and it drove him crazy. This part of Forbidden to His Touch was painful to read because Raf didn’t feel he deserved Sophia and Sophia, in the end, was determined to get the man she loved, the man who deserved to be loved.

    So, with that all being said, prepare yourself for tears and a little heart ache while reading this extraordinary love story; especially when Rafael bares his soul to Sophia.

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    Posted March 4, 2012

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    Posted March 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

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    Posted April 1, 2012

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