The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride [NOOK Book]

Overview



The single mom's new job: chauffeur to the sheikh!

Zahir was surprised to find he had a beautiful new driver. This chauffeur did not blend into the background. Oh, no. Diana Metcalfe talked. She laughed. She took him on unplanned detours. And he had more fun than he'd ...
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The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride

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Overview



The single mom's new job: chauffeur to the sheikh!

Zahir was surprised to find he had a beautiful new driver. This chauffeur did not blend into the background. Oh, no. Diana Metcalfe talked. She laughed. She took him on unplanned detours. And he had more fun than he'd had in years.

But back in his desert kingdom, a dynastic marriage was being brokered for Zahir. Crazy though it seemed, he wished that this wonderful, vivacious, thoroughly unsuitable woman could be his bride instead.…

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426811241
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Series: Desert Brides , #3999
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 274,168
  • File size: 141 KB

Meet the Author

Liz Fielding was born with itchy feet. She made it to Zambia before her twenty-first birthday and, gathering her own special hero and a couple of children on the way, lived in Botswana, Kenya and Bahrain. Seven of her titles have been nominated for RWA’s Rita®; and she has won the Best Traditional Romance in 2000, the British Romance Prize in 2005 and the Best Short Contemporary Romance in 2006.

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Read an Excerpt

'Leave that, Di.'

Diana Metcalfe backed out of the rear door of the minibus she was cleaning and, stuffing a handful of chocolate wrappers into her overall pocket, turned to face her boss. The woman, unusually, looked as if she was just about at the end of her tether.

'What's up, Sadie?'

'Jack Lumley has gone home sick. He's the third today.'

'The café's meat pie strikes again?'

'So it would appear, although that's the Environmental Health Officer's problem. Mine is that I've got three drivers with their heads down the toilet and a VIP with a packed schedule arriving at London City Airport in a little over an hour.' Despite her worries, she managed a wry smile. 'Please tell me you don't have a hot date tonight.'

'Not even a lukewarm one.' Who had the time? 'You want me to work this evening?'

'If you can.'

'It shouldn't be a problem. I'll have to give Dad a call, let him know he'll have to give Freddy his tea.'

'How is your gorgeous little boy?'

'Growing like a weed.'

'Daisy keeps asking me when he can come over for another play-date.'Then, 'I'll fix up something when I call your father. You don't have time, not if you're going to meet that flight.'

Diana blinked. Meet the flight…? 'Excuse me? Are you saying that I get the VIP?'

'You get the VIP.'

'But I can't! You can't…'

Sadie frowned. 'You've been checked out on the car haven't you?'

'Um, yes…' Company rules. Everyone could, in theory, drive any car, in the Capitol fleet. In theory. But this was the newest, most luxurious, most expensive saloon car in the garage—pride and joy of Jack Lumley, the company's number one driver. While she'd anticipated a shuffle round totake up the slack, an extra job or two, never, in her wildest dreams, had she imagined she'd ever be entrusted behind its leather-covered steering wheel.

Or entrusted with one of their top drawer clients.

'Thank goodness for that,' Sadie said with feeling.

Apparently, she could!

Diana slapped a hand over her mouth, but not quickly enough to catch the word that slipped out.

Sadie sighed. 'Please tell me you don't use that kind of language when you're on the school run, Diana.'

'Me? Oh, please! Where on earth do you think I learned a word like that?'

'Are the kids really that bad? My father took it on as a public service, something for the local community, but I won't have—'

'The kids are okay,' she said quickly. 'Really. They're just at that age where shocking the grown-ups is a sport. The trick is not to react.'

'The trick, Di, is not to join in.'

'I don't…'Realising that she just had, she let it go. 'Right.' Sadie looked thoughtful. 'I've half a mind to put Jack on the job for a week or two when he's fit. Teach them to think twice about their language. Teach him to think twice about eating dodgy meat pies on my time.'

The senior driver of Capitol Cars reduced to driving a minibus full of lippy primary school kids?

Having swiftly recovered from her shock, Diana grinned. 'Now that's something I'd pay good money to see.'

They exchanged a glance. Two single mothers—one at the bottom, the other at the top of a male-dominated business—who between them had heard every chauvinist put-down, every woman driver joke in the book. Sadie, with obvious regret, shook her head. 'Unfortunately he'd resign rather than do that.'

'Totally beneath his dignity,' Diana agreed. 'I'm sure learning that I've been driving his precious car will be punishment enough.'

Sadie just about managed to stop herself from grinning back and snapping back into 'boss' mode she said, 'Yes, well, just remember that at this end of the business the clients prefer their chauffeurs politely invisible.'

'No singing, then?'

'Singing?'

'I find it keeps the passengers from using bad language…'

'I'm serious!'

'Yes, ma'am.'

'Right. Well, come on. I'll brief you on Sheikh Zahir's itinerary while you change. This is a full dress uniform job. And yes, before you ask, that includes the hat.'

'Sh…Sh-Sheikh?'

Diana thought she'd managed to cover her near slip pretty well, but Sadie's quick glance suggested that she was not fooled.

'Sheikh Zahir al-Khatib is the nephew of the Emir of Ramal Hamrah, cousin of his country's ambassador to London and a billionaire businessman who is single-handedly turning his country into the next über-fashionable get-away-from-it-all tourist destination.'

Diana instantly lost any inclination to sing. 'He's a genuine A-list VIP, then.'

'You've got it. The Mercedes is at his disposal full-time while he's in London. The hours will, inevitably, be unpredictable but if you can hold the fort for me today, I'll have someone else lined up to take over tomorrow.'

'You don't have to do that,' Diana said a touch fiercely, hoping to counteract the initial impression of irresponsibility. She might not be Jack Lumley, but her passengers were never short-changed. 'I can handle it. At least until Jack has recovered.'

This was the chance she'd been waiting for, an opportunity to prove herself capable of taking on the big jobs, to move up from the no-frills end of the market—the school bus, the airport runs—to driving one of Capitol's limousines and big money; she wasn't about to meekly surrender the Mercedes to the first man to recover control of his stomach.

'Give me a chance, Sadie. I won't let you down.'

Sadie touched her shoulder, a gesture that said she understood. 'Let's see how it goes today, shall we?'

Okay. She got the message. This was her opportunity to show what she could do; it was up to her to make the most of it.

Diana responded to the challenge by peeling off the latex gloves she used for cleaning out the minibus with a decisive snap. Then she stepped out of her garage overalls and replaced them with well-pressed trousers, a fresh white shirt and, instead of her usual Capitol Cars sweatshirt, her rarely worn burgundy uniform jacket.

Sadie, consulting a sheet on the clipboard she was holding, said, 'Sheikh Zahir is flying into the City Airport in his private jet, ETA seventeen-fifteen hours. Wait in the short-term parking area. The VIP hostess has the number of the car phone and she'll give you a call when his plane touches down so that you can be at the kerb, waiting for him.'

'Got it.'

'His first stop will be his country's embassy in Belgravia. He'll be there for an hour, then you're to take him to his hotel in Park Lane before leaving at nineteen-forty-five hours for a reception at the Riverside Gallery on the South Bank, followed by dinner in Mayfair. All the addresses are on the worksheet.'

'Belgravia, Mayfair…' Diana, unable to help herself, grinned as she buttoned up her jacket. 'Be still my beating heart. Is this a dream? Should I pinch myself?'

'Don't go all starry-eyed on me, Di. And keep in touch, okay? Any problems, I want to hear about them from you, not the client.'

Sheikh Zahir bin Ali al-Khatib was still working as the jet touched down and taxied to the terminal.

'We've arrived, Zahir.' James Pierce removed the laptop, passed it on to a secretary to deal with, and replaced it with a gift-wrapped package.

Zahir frowned, trying to recall what it was. Then, remembering, he looked up. 'You managed to find exactly what she wanted?' he demanded.

'One of my staff located it via the Internet. Antique. Venetian. Very pretty. I'm sure the princess will be delighted.' Then, 'Your usual driver will be waiting at Arrivals but we've a very tight schedule this evening. You'll need to leave the embassy no later than eighteen-forty-five hours if you're going to make the reception on time.'

Diana pulled up at Arrivals, squashed the stupid little forage hat firmly into place, tugged down her uniform jacket, smoothed the fine leather gloves over the backs of her hands. Then, her head full of snowy robes, the whole Lawrence of Arabia thing, she stood by the rear door of the limousine, ready to leap into action the minute her passenger appeared.

There were no robes. No romantic headdress caught by the wind.

Sheikh Zahir al-Khatib had, it seemed, taken on board the dressing-for-comfort-when-travelling message. Not that she'd have had any trouble recognising him, even without his VIP escort.

The grey sweatshirt, soft jeans and deck shoes worn on bare feet might be casual but they were expensive. The man, tall and rangy, with dark hair that curled around his neck, might look more like a sports star than a tycoon, but his clothes, his head turning looks, did absolutely nothing to diminish an aura of careless arrogance, the aristocratic assurance of a man whose every wish had been someone else's instant command from the day he had first drawn breath.

The very pink, thoroughly beribboned gift-wrapped package he was carrying provided no more than a counterpoint that underlined his authority—the kind of presence that raised the hairs on the back of her neck.

Sheikh Zahir al-Khatib, it had to be admitted, was dangerously, slay-'em-in-the aisles, gorgeous.

He paused briefly in the doorway to thank his escort, giving Diana a moment to haul her chin off the ground—drooling was such a bad look—before affixing a polite smile to lips that she firmly compressed to contain the usual, 'Did you have a good flight?' chat as she opened the rear door of the car.

No chat.

This wasn't a family party returning from a trip to Disney, eager to share their good time as they piled into the minibus, she reminded herself.

All that was required was a quiet, Good afternoon, sir…

It wasn't easy. There were two things she was good at: driving and talking. They both came as naturally to her as breathing: one—just about—paid the bills, the other she did for free. Sort of like a hobby. A fact that had featured prominently in her end of year school reports.

Talking in class. Talking in Assembly. Talking herself into trouble.

Since she mostly got the kids and the hen parties—jobs where a bit of lip came in handy if things got rowdy—it wasn't usually a problem, but she understood why Sadie would only give her a job like this if she were really desperate.

Why she'd reserved judgement on anything more than a fill-in role.

Well she would show Sadie. She would show them all, she promised herself—her parents, that older generation of neigh-bours who gave her that no-better-than-she-should-be look—and she began tidily enough.

Her smile was regulation polite as she opened the door smartly so that nothing would impede his progress.

'Good afternoon—'

She didn't get as far as the 'sir'.

A small boy, skidding through the terminal doors in her passenger's wake, dived through the closing gap between the car door and Sheikh Zahir, to hurl himself at the woman who'd just pulled up behind them. Before Diana could utter a warning or move, he went flying over her highly polished shoes and cannoned headlong into Sheikh Zahir, sending the fancy package flying.

The Sheikh's reactions were lightning-fast and he caught the child by the back of his jacket before he hit the ground.

Diana, no slouch herself, leapt for the ribbons. The package was arcing away from her, but those ribbons had their uses and she managed to grab one, bringing it to a halt.

'Yes!' she exclaimed triumphantly.

Too soon.

'No-o-o-o!'

She held the ribbon, but the parcel kept travelling as the bow unravelled in a long pink stream until the gift hit the concrete with what sounded horribly like breaking glass.

At which point she let slip the word she'd promised Sadie that she would never, ever use in front of a client.

Maybe—please—Sheikh Zahir's English wouldn't be good enough to grasp her meaning.

'Hey! Where's the fire?' he asked the boy, hauling him upright and setting him on his feet, holding him steady while he regained his balance, his breath, and completely dashing her hopes on the language front.

Only the slightest accent suggested that the Sheikh's first language wasn't English.

'I am so-o-o-o sorry…' The boy's grandmother, the focus of his sprint, was overcome with embarrassment. 'Please let me pay for any damage.'

'It is nothing,'Sheikh Zahir replied, dismissing her concern with a graceful gesture, the slightest of bows. The desert prince to his fingertips, even without the trappings.

He was, Diana had to admit, as she picked up the remains of whatever was in the parcel, a class act.

Then, as she stood up, he turned to her and everything went rapidly downhill as she got the full close-up impact of his olive-skinned, dark-eyed masculinity. The kind that could lay you out with a smile.

Except that Sheikh Zahir wasn't smiling, but looking down at her with dark, shaded, unreadable eyes.

It was only when she tried to speak that she realised she'd been holding her breath.

'I'm sorry,' she finally managed, her words escaping in a breathy rush.

'Sorry?'

For her language lapse. For not making a better job of fielding the package.

Deciding that the latter would be safer, she offered it to him.

'I'm afraid it's broken.' Then, as he took it from her and shook it, she added, 'In fact it, um, appears to be leaking.'

He glanced down, presumably to confirm this, then, holding it at arm's length to avoid the drips, he looked around, presumably hoping for a litter bin in which to discard it. Giving her a moment to deal with the breathing problem.

So he was a sheikh. So his features had a raw, dangerous, bad boy edge to them. So he was gorgeous.

So what?

She didn't do that!

Besides which, he wasn't going to look at her twice even if she wanted him to. Which she didn't.

Really.

One dangerous-looking man in a lifetime was more than enough trouble.

Definitely time to haul her tongue back into line and act like the professional she'd promised Sadie she was…

There wasn't a bin and the Sheikh dealt with the problem by returning the sorry mess of damp paper and ribbons to her. That at least was totally masculine behaviour—leaving someone else to deal with the mess…

'You're not my usual driver,' he said.

'No, sir,'she said. He had twenty-twenty vision, she thought as she retrieved a waterproof sick bag from the glove box and stowed the package inside it where it could do no harm. 'I wonder what gave me away?' she muttered under her breath.

'The beard?' he offered, as she turned to face him.

And his hearing was…A1.

Oh, double…sheikh!

'It can't be that, sir,' she said, hoping that the instruction to her brain for a polite smile had reached her face; the one saying, Shut up! had apparently got lost en route. 'I don't have a beard.' Then, prompted by some inner demon, she added, 'I could wear a false one.'

Sometimes, when you'd talked your way into trouble, the only way out was to keep talking. She hadn't entirely wasted her time at school. She knew that if she could make him laugh, she might just get away with it.

Smile, damn you, smile…

'If it's essential,'she added, heart sinking. Because he didn't.

Or comment on what was, or was not, essential.

'What is your name?' he asked.

'Oh, you needn't worry about that,'she assured him, affecting an airy carelessness. 'The office will know who I am.'

When he made his complaint.

She wasn't even going to last out the day. Sadie would kill her. Sadie had every right…

'Your office might,' he said, 'but I don't.'

Busted. This was a man who left nothing to chance.

'Metcalfe, sir.'

'Metcalfe.'He looked as if he might have something to say about that, but must have thought better of it because he let it go. 'Well, Metcalfe, shall we make a move? Time is short and now we're going to have to make a detour unless the birthday girl is to be disappointed.'

'Birthday girl?'

Didn't he know that it was seriously unPC to refer to a woman as a 'girl' these days?

'Princess Ameerah, my cousin's daughter, is ten years old today. Her heart's desire, apparently, is for a glass snow globe. I promised her she would have one.'

'Oh.'A little girl… Then, forgetting that she was supposed to only speak when she was spoken to, 'They are lovely. I've still got one that I was given when I was…'


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2011

    Cute

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted November 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Woman Driver

    This was a good read a really good about a woman who has to drive a sheikh around London during his stay. She is supposed to be following orders yet she has her own set of orders. Along the way the press catches them dancing and her world is turned up side down so he flys her and her family to his home country where she meets his family and stay at his home where no one but him lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2007

    ink taxis and snowglobe magic: a short romance with humor, fun and emotional depth

    Liz Fielding's THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE is a short tender romance filled with humor and emotion that sets romance within the context of family and social obligations and expectations. Single mother Diane Metcalfe works as a chauffeur at Capitol Cars assigned to the school and airport runs --- the no-frills low end of the business. When Jack Lumley, the company's number one driver catches a stomach bug along with two other drivers, her boss Sadie scrambles, assigning Diane to VIP duty in the most luxurious saloon car in he garage. Diane's new assignment requires a full dress uniform and the discipline to remain politely invisible. With the opportunity to drive the limousines for bigger money, will Diane be able to succeed at the task or will her mouth and exuberance for life get her into big trouble? The rich and handsome Sheikh Zahir al-Khatib, has come to London for a business trip. Zahir feels torn between his respect for the family traditions and ways at the same time as his independent spirit sees a new vision in the business world. Will his independence and vision spill over into his love life? Can business, love and family be separated? As soon as Diane encounters Sheikh Zahir at the airport, all her intentions to remain professionally invisible are shattered. A bumping accident causes a priceless package to fly in the air beyond Diane's grasp. When Diane breaks her professional veneer to question the appropriateness of glass as a gift for a 10 year old girl, the trouble just begins....and gets much worse! Will this slip outside professional protocol open the door for romance or will Diane and Zahir cling to their family traditions and comfort zone when the sparks of romance move their hearts? As the 50th book in Liz Fielding's career, THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE has all the elements that fans have come to know and love in a Liz Fielding romance, namely zany situations opening hearts, a delightful sense of humor, and an emotional depth to her characters and their romance. The exotic yet traditional background of the hero coupled with the everyday wisdom and spunk of the heroine adds to the humor while the theme of demands of family and duty as a hindrance to romance touches the heart with a universal romance conflict that will touch a wide breadth of readers. THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE also creates a fun moving tribute to popular culture and world events like Princess Diana, romance and fairy tales with its use of names and situations but Liz Fielding shifts the familiar paradigms to create a romance that moves beyond such references into a story both modern and emotionally rich. THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE shows the maturity of writing of a great romance writer whose smooth narrative structure moves effortlessly between moments of humor to those of intimate emotional depth.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 6, 2012

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    Posted May 14, 2014

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    Posted December 21, 2009

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    Posted October 7, 2011

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    Posted July 9, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews

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