Wife by Arrangement

Wife by Arrangement

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by Lucy Gordon
     
 

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Heather felt humiliated when Lorenzo Martelli jilted her at the altar. She blamed his brother Renato for what had happened and was astonished when everyone insisted Renato make amends by taking his brother's place in an arranged marriage with her!

Renato was a powerful man, not used to taking orders. But he knew he was responsible, and felt duty-bound to marry

Overview

Heather felt humiliated when Lorenzo Martelli jilted her at the altar. She blamed his brother Renato for what had happened and was astonished when everyone insisted Renato make amends by taking his brother's place in an arranged marriage with her!

Renato was a powerful man, not used to taking orders. But he knew he was responsible, and felt duty-bound to marry Heather. She was wary of accepting such a proud, arrogant substitute husband--only the attraction between them was overwhelming.... Could she refuse?

Editorial Reviews

Shannon Short
Lucy Gordon gets June off to a superb start with an extraordinary tale, a story chock-full of emotions, fascinating characters and a gripping premise. (4 ½) A Top Pick for the month.
Romantic Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426862311
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
05/01/2010
Series:
Italian Grooms , #1
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
531,998
File size:
504 KB

Read an Excerpt

(Lorenzo Martelli has taken Heather to the Ritz, to meet his patriarchal elder brother, Renato. Heather discovers that Renato is the same man who, earlier that day, came to the store where she worked, posing as an awkward customer, and offering her money to become his mistress. Renato makes an excuse to be alone with Heather.)

When Lorenzo had gone they looked at each other. “I thought you’d appreciate the chance to tell me exactly what you think of me,” Renato said. “If I did that we’d be here all night.”
He laughed. “Go on, say it.”
“Where do I start? Where would it end? Your impertinence in checking up on me with my employers, and then this afternoon - you were auditioning me, sizing me up to see if I was ‘suitable.’”
“Certainly I was curious about the woman who’s made such an impression on my brother. If I’d told you who I was you wouldn’t have acted naturally. I wanted to see you when you weren’t trying to impress me.”
“Your conceit is past belief. What makes you think I’d have been trying to impress you?”
“I credit you with enough intelligence to know that you can’t marry my brother without impressing me first. You passed with flying colors. Lorenzo tends to be emotional and impulsive. Your cool, northern efficiency will be good for him. My congratulations. You’ve gone the right way to earn my respect.”
“And you’re going the right way to earn a chocolate mousse over your head,” she threatened, not in the least appeased by these compliments. “You actually - you actually - ?”
“Please don’t be angry. I promise you, the opinion I formed of you was entirely favorable.”
“The opinion that I formed of you was far from favorable. The things you said to me - ”
“I wanted to see if you’d respond to my money - “
“If I was a fortune hunter!” she snapped.
“The choice of words is yours, but the meaning is the same.”
Heather prided herself on her practical common sense, but this man annoyed her enough to make her toss it aside and take risks instead. The next words seemed to come out of their own accord.
“You’d have looked silly if I’d said yes, wouldn’t you?” she said coolly. “Why? Are you saying that you wouldn’t have delivered? I doubt it. I think you’re a woman of your word. If you’d promised to sleep with me, you’d have slept with me. We’d have enjoyed a mutually pleasurable experience - ”
“Oh really?”
“I promise you it would have been.”
“And never mind what it did to Lorenzo.”
“If you’d accepted I’d have been doing him a favor, and he’d have seen that.”
“People always see things your way, do they?”
“With time and persuasion.”
She regarded him wryly. “Does that mean that, given time and persuasion, you think you could have seduced me?”
He was suddenly alert. “I don’t know,” he said slowly. “I simply don’t know.”
It was like playing chess, she found, and suddenly very thrilling. Shrewdly she moved her queen into the center of the board, inviting attack. “Perhaps you just didn’t raise the price high enough,” she murmured.
“What are you saying?”
“Don’t you know that a woman who seems honest can charge twice as much as her more blatant sisters?”
“Oh yes,” he said softly. “I know that. What now?”
“Come a little nearer, and I’ll tell you.”
Slowly he moved his head closer to her. Heather leaned nearer until her hair lightly brushed his face, and her breath fanned his cheek.
“I wouldn’t want you if you were the last man on earth,” she whispered. “Go and jump in the lake, and take your money with you!”
He turned his head so that his eyes looked directly into hers. They were hard with astonishment, cold, appraising. “You are a very unexpected lady,” he said. “And a very brave one.”
“I don’t need to be brave. You can’t harm me because you have nothing that I want.”
“Except that I hold your marriage to Lorenzo in my hands. I’m particular about who I take into my family - ”
“Then you’ll be relieved to know that you won’t be asked to accept me,” she said, drawing back and facing him with furious eyes. “Let me make my position plain. I hope Lorenzo wasn’t planning to propose, because my answer would be no, and you are the reason.”
“Heather - “ came Lorenzo’s dismayed voice from behind her. He had returned in time to hear the last words.
She jumped to her feet. “I’m sorry, Lorenzo, but it’s over. We had a lovely romance but it was just a fairy tale. Now it’s reality time, and your reality is your very unpleasant brother.”
He seized her arms. “Don’t go like this. I love you.”
“And I love you, but I’m saying goodbye.”
“Because of him? Why?”
“Ask him. Let him tell you if he dares.”
She pulled free and stormed away. Lorenzo started after her but Renato growled, “Leave this to me.”
Anger gave speed to Heather’s feet and she’d already whisked herself half way down the Long Gallery before Renato had caught up with her.
“This is ridiculous,” he said, reaching for her arm.
“Don’t call me ridiculous,” she seethed, shaking him off. “What’s ridiculous is you thinking you can move people like pawns on a chess board.”
“I haven’t had much difficulty so far,” he was rash enough to say.
“So I guessed. But you hadn’t met me then.”
“Indeed I hadn’t - ”
“It’s been a short acquaintance, not a pleasant one. This is where it ends.”
“Please Heather, let’s discuss this calmly.”
“I don’t feel calm. I feel like throwing something at your head.”
“You’re punishing Lorenzo because you’re mad at me, and that isn’t fair.”
“Not, it’s not fair. It’s not fair that he has you for a brother, but he’s stuck with you. I’m not, however, and I intend to keep it that way.”
“All right, insult me if it gives you pleasure - ”
“After the way you’ve insulted me, it gives me more pleasure than I can say!”

Meet the Author

Lucy Gordon cut her writing teeth on magazine journalism, interviewing many of the world's most interesting men, including Warren Beatty and Roger Moore. Several years ago, while staying Venice, she met a Venetian who proposed in two days. They have been married ever since. Naturally this has affected her writing, where romantic Italian men tend to feature strongly. Two of her books have won a Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. You can visit her website at www.lucy-gordon.com.

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Wife by Arrangement 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago