The Italian's Virgin Princess

The Italian's Virgin Princess

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by Jane Porter

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Princess Joelle Ducasse must marry the man who has been chosen for her. Joelle knows her marriage will be one of duty, not love. So in an act of defiance she decides to spend one hot, steamy night with a gorgeous stranger. But unbeknownst to Joelle that stranger is actually Prince Leo Borgarde--her future husband! Leo is furious that his future wife could


Princess Joelle Ducasse must marry the man who has been chosen for her. Joelle knows her marriage will be one of duty, not love. So in an act of defiance she decides to spend one hot, steamy night with a gorgeous stranger. But unbeknownst to Joelle that stranger is actually Prince Leo Borgarde--her future husband! Leo is furious that his future wife could behave in such a reckless way. He demands that Joelle must be punished, and he knows just the right way... by marriage!

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Princess Brides , #3
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The Italian's Virgin Princess

By Jane Porter

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-12430-9

Chapter One

The Ducasse Palace, Porto, Melio

PRINCESS JOELLE DUCASSE studied the sealed letter she'd left on her grandfather's desk. Identical copies of the letter were being couriered to her sisters, Nicolette in Baraka, and Chantal in Greece.

The heavy cream envelope with the gold Palace seal suddenly looked ominous on Grandpapa's desk.

He'd be so hurt, she thought, feeling tears well up. He wouldn't understand.

But then, she didn't even understand why she felt so desperate to get away, to escape Melio and the glare of publicity and the camera lenses. She'd never found it comfortable living in the public eye but since Grandmama's death it'd gotten worse. So much worse.

The media wouldn't - couldn't - let her grieve privately. They were there documenting every outing, every appearance, capturing Joelle's weekly visit to her grandmother's grave on film, capturing the sheen of tears in her eyes as she left the royal cemetery, capturing her shell-shocked expression as she climbed into the waiting car.

There was no privacy, no respect, and no time to hide her hurt. Or her confusion.

Grandmama's death had triggered all sorts of pain, pain that must have been buried deep inside of her since her parents' death eighteenyears ago. And those tabloid photos, those sensationalized articles, Queen Astrid's Death Rocks The Youngest Princess, only made the confusion worse.

Truthfully, she didn't know what to feel. She didn't even feel. Sometime in the last six months, in the months between Grandmama's funeral and now, she'd lost all feeling, all hope, all courage.

How could she live a public life ... a life of public service ... if she didn't even know who she was? If she didn't even know what she was?

Joelle reached for the envelope on Grandpapa's desk, and her fingers brushed his antique leather blotter, a blotter that had been in the family for over a hundred years, the leather soft and worn, the felt pad replaced numerous times and tears filled her eyes.

She felt so conflicted. So much in knots.

Joelle loved the old leather blotter, loved Grandpapa's handsome paneled study, loved everything about the old limestone palace and she knew intellectually why she needed to marry and remain here - Nic had married the sultan and couldn't return to Melio, and Chantal had married a commoner and the Greek couldn't become king - but she couldn't imagine assuming more duty, more responsibility without recovering her composure first.

She needed a break. Space. Desperately needed privacy. The palace felt so empty without Grandmama, and while she adored Grandpapa, it was Grandmama who'd always counseled her, Grandmama she'd talked to. And now without Grandmama here, she couldn't bear it. Couldn't bear the emptiness, the loneliness, the uncertainty of her future, and yet Joelle knew it was time she started to come to grips with the loss. Even if it meant dealing with the grief her way, without everybody watching, without everybody talking.

Joelle left the letter where it was.

I'm sorry, Grandpapa. Forgive me.

You're only going for a year, she told herself, turning away from the desk and heading for the door. It's not forever. You'll be back in twelve months, you'll marry Prince Luigi Borgarde and life will continue as it should.

But six hours later as she settled into a coach seat on a small European carrier, sunglasses on, a hat pulled down low on her head, she was still trying to shake the guilt and focus on the positives.

She'd have twelve months to find peace, twelve months to come to grips with Grandmama's death, twelve months to grieve without being the focus of cameras and paparazzi.

And yet as the hours passed and Joelle struggled to get comfortable in her narrow coach seat, she wished for just one moment that she'd traveled the old way, traveled as a princess usually did - whisked in and out of security, private customs, private lounges, hidden behind the broad shoulders of bodyguards and airport security. Private protectors. Public defenders. Plainclothes police and government sharpshooters ever vigilant on behalf the royal family's safety. Security.

But that was the problem, Joelle thought, tugging her thin fuzzy blanket higher around her shoulders. There was no way to be Princess Joelle without the cameras, without the security, without the palace protocol. And as long as she remained Princess Joelle Ducasse, everyone would have too much information, would assume they knew everything about her.

But people didn't really know her. They only knew what the media wrote. They only knew what the palace PR people told them.

They didn't know her real dreams. Or the depth of her emotion. They didn't know how much she longed for choice. For independence. For freedom.

Her older sister, Chantal, said personal choice was overrated, not an essential, and certainly not a guarantee when one's last name was Ducasse and your lineage dated back to the late thirteenth century.

But Joelle didn't want to be a Ducasse. She'd had enough of the Ducasse lifestyle. All she wanted was to be a regular person. Private. Independent. Self-sufficient.

For one year she was going to be a regular Jo.

New Orleans, Eleven months later

"A DRINK, Miss d'Ville?"

The question, asked by a distinctly male voice, a very deep, very quiet voice, sent a ripple of unease through Joelle. Voices like that only came from years of power.

Positions of authority, the kind of authority she'd left behind in Europe. Joelle turned reluctantly, more than reluctantly, knowing by his voice that it was him.


The one who'd sat in the front row tonight, just left of stage center.

The one who'd distracted her all night with his intense gaze, a gaze that never seemed to leave her.

Twice she'd lost her place in the middle of a song. Twice she'd stood there on stage in the purple and blue gel lights utterly blank - losing all thought, all memory, all words. She'd never forgotten lyrics like that. She'd never stared out at a dark sea of audience and wondered what she was doing with a microphone before.

But it hadn't been an entirely dark sea. She'd seen one face, one man the entire time, and his intense focus had trapped her, called her, just as he did now.

Up close, barely a foot away, he made her feel bare, exposed. She'd never minded dressing sexy on stage but somehow with his dark gaze scrutinizing her, a slow inspection from head to toe, she knew he disapproved.

His censure was nearly as heavy as her guitar case hanging from her shoulder.

"A drink?" she repeated, trying to force her brain to function despite the rather mad thought that if she ever belonged to a man, it wouldn't be to someone like this, someone so overwhelmingly male, so fiercely controlled.

She wanted ease. Charm. She wanted comfortable.

He wasn't comfortable.

"As in a beverage," he answered almost gently, smiling a little and yet the smile remained at his lips, failed to warm his eyes. Instead his dark eyes burned, his dark eyes owned her, possessed her, a hard sexual possession that had nothing to do with civilized behavior and everything to do with bodies. Skin.

Her skin.

She felt a cool silvery shiver shoot down her spine, and her body reacted - hair at her nape lifting, goose bumps prickling her arms, even her breasts firmed, nipples peaking.

Joelle pressed her guitar case closer to her hip, making it the latest in body armor. "I understand the concept. We have beverages in America, too," she said, letting him know she understood he was foreign, and yet he couldn't intimidate her.

But she was wary. Not because he posed a physical threat, but because he was different, and she'd always been fascinated by that which was unusual. Intriguing. And he was certainly intriguing.

Tall, darkly handsome and probably very Italian. His accent sounded Italian.

"Then you'll join me," he said, indicating his table.

His stunning confidence dazzled her. "I ... I've ... plans." Laundry. And packing. She needed to get ready to return home.

"Change them."

There was something ... raw ... about him, something male and stunningly primitive which didn't go with his superbly tailored suit, the sleek lapel just so, jacket molded, shaping the shoulders and chest, the trousers hanging perfectly, the cuffs hitting the top of his shoe. She'd dated a number of men in the past year and none had been like him. "I can't."

His brow furrowed, his expression hardening. "You must," he said, his tone deceptively soft. "It's important."

Important how? Important to whom?


Excerpted from The Italian's Virgin Princess by Jane Porter Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jane Porter loves central California's golden foothills and miles of farmland, rich with the sweet and heady fragrance of orange blossoms. Her parents fed her imagination by taking Jane to Europe for a year where she became passionate about Italy and those gorgeous Italian men! Jane never minds a rainy day – that's when she sits at her desk and writes stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most important of all, love. Visit her website at:

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Italian's Virgin Princess 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
CatmomJD More than 1 year ago
Joelle Ducasse's life is all planned out for her. She is to marry Prince Leo Borgarde. It didn't matter what she thought about it. The plan was to save her country and provide an heir to the throne. But, can she go through with it after the rush of emotions from losing her grandmother? She has to take time away to get ready for her future. She runs away to New Orleans for a year and becomes a singer like her mother once was and living the life or any ordinary young lady. On her last night she meets a man who she loses her virginity to. She doesn't want to marry having no experience at all with men. So, she chose him for her one night mission. After returning home, she meets the man she is to marry. And to her surprise, it's the same one she met on her last night in New Orleans. Now, all the confusion starts. Can she marry this man, even if it's out of duty? He wasn't honest with her about knowing who she was or who he was. Sure he told her his name, but she didn't recognize it because she didn't even know the correct name of the man she was to marry. Can she put the past and her feelings behind her and find love and marry to save her homeland? This was the last of the Princess Brides stories and all loose ends were wrapped up with the previous two stories. I enjoyed all three books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
THE ITALIAN'S VIRGIN PRINCESS is sadly the last of the Princess Bride series. I loved all of them but this one was my favorite of the three. Joelle Ducasse is the youngest and has gone through an emotional upheavel when her beloved grandmother died. That and the upcoming marriage made between her grandfather and the Prince who needs a country to rule as Melio needs Joelle to produce heirs. Overwhelmed by everything, Joelle decides to take off for a year by herself to get everything in perspective before she can make herself a proper wife to Prince Luigi. Her last night in New Orleans she means and intriguing and sensual man named Leo who she decides is the perfect man to give her virginity to. Only one thing Leo turns out to be her prospective groom and he is not happy. He is very attracted to Joelle but he has spent a lifetime trailing after his volatile mother, and doesn't want a wife with those same qualities that Joelle appears to have. Will they be able to put their doubts aside and go through with the marriage? THE ITALIAN'S VIRGIN PRINCESS was a nice ending to the Princess Bride series. Joelle shows there is more to her then what her family sees and Leo is the only other person who realises she is not as docile as everyone thinks. I highly recommend THE ITALIAN'S VIRGIN PRINCESS and know this would be a great thing to read as the turkey is cooking on Thanksgiving.