Planning her sister's Italian wedding only reminds Jules Lane of how far away she is from finding her own true love. And worse, she's doing it alongside the brooding, mouthwateringly handsome best man, Stefano DeFiore.
Maybe the bride?
Having seen the destructive power of love, Stefano has no time for weddingsbut Jules's smile is captivating. Making her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world is one thing, but can he give this blushing bridesmaid a happily-ever-after of her own?
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Always a bridesmaid
Jules Lane lifted her chin and smiled broadly.
Her steps grew quicker as she made her way past the other departing passengers. At last she was in Rome. Rome, Italy, to be exact. She continued to grin and resisted the urge to pinch herself just to make sure this wasn't a dream.
On the other hand, this wasn't exactly a vacation. She was here for an important jobto help plan her foster sister's wedding. This wouldn't be Jules's first time down the aisle. She'd been a bridesmaid more times than she could count on one hand.
However, this time around she had the privilege of being the maid of honor. It was a role she eagerly anticipated. She liked to take chargeto provide order to chaos. She wasn't a closet romantic. She didn't dream about finding Prince Charming. She didn't fantasize about her "big day." But she did have a thing for pretty dresses and cakecake was definitely her weakness.
Actually now that she thought about it, Lizzie, her foster sister, hadn't been into romance, either at least not until she'd flown here three months ago for a television showa reality segment about cooking. Cupid sure seemed to have hit the mark with Lizzie and Dante.
For most of Jules's life, Lizzie had been the keeper of her secrets, her protector and her only family. Jules loved her with all her heart. But that security came with a steep price tag for both of themlearning at an early age that they only had each other to lean on.
Now it was time for a changeif only Jules could find a way to tell Lizzie her news.
Jules sighed as she made her way through the Leonardo da Vinci terminal. She'd find the right time. She just had to have patience.
The strap of her carry-on dug into her shoulder, and she struggled to adjust it. The black-and-white cloth bag was weighted down with a wedding planner, a big bag of sour candies and plenty of bridal magazines with dog-eared pages and sticky notes. She had everything necessary to plan the perfect weddingexcept for one very important but necessary ingredient: caffeine. But no worriesLizzie had been raving about the delicious coffee Rome had to offer.
Considering no details about the wedding had been tacked down, there would be long conversations over this now-infamous coffee. First, they had to nail down a wedding date. Jules was thinking a spring wedding next year. It'd be perfect as Lizzie had mentioned something about an Italian vineyard as the backdrop. Talk about some amazing photos.
This wedding-planning stuff shouldn't be too hard. After all, Jules had most of it memorized by this point. Now she'd be able to put all of that knowledge to good use.
Boisterous voices filled the terminal as friends greeted each other. An American family called frantically for their son, who stood ten steps away checking out the cell phones that a beautiful woman with long dark hair and a brilliant smile was eager to show the teenager. Jules took it all in as she strode through the congested concourse, following the signs to the baggage claim.
She couldn't wait to see Lizzie. It felt like an eternity since they'd seen each other. And she was looking forward to meeting her future brother-in-law, Dante. Lizzie swore the photos she'd emailed didn't do him justice. That was hard to believe since Jules had found him quite handsome.
She walked over to the luggage carousel, hoping her suitcase had made the journey and hadn't been lost along the way. All the while, she kept glancing around for Lizzie. Where could she be? It wasn't like her to be late.
Jules's gaze strayed across to a tall dark-haired man at the other end of the luggage return area. He spoke to a pretty young woman, who shook her head and turned away. And then he moved on to the next young woman. What was that all about?
Jules shrugged and turned away. She pulled the phone from her pocket, hoping a message from Lizzie would pop up, but instead a dead battery symbol flashed on the screen and then everything went black. Jules sighed. This couldn't be happening to her while she was all alone in a foreign country. She'd charged it before she left New York, hadn't she?
"Scusi. Are you Ms. Lane?" A deep male voice immediately drew her attention.
She turned to find the same dark-haired man speaking to a woman a couple of people down from her. Was he looking for her? How did he know her name?
When the blonde woman wearing a pastel flowered dress shook her head, he moved on. He skipped over an older woman, not even bothering to ask her. And then his gaze skimmed over Jules's pigtails, long-sleeved black top, purple-and-black plaid miniskirt and knee-high platform black boots. His facial expression remained neutral, but he didn't say a word to her as he moved on down the line.
Seriously? He was that put off by her appearance that he wasn't even going to speak to her? She turned her back to him. Then she realized he might have a message from Lizzie. Jules turned back around.
He stopped at the next young woman. "Scusi, are you Julianne"
"Hey, mister." When he turned to her with a raised brow, she had to fight back a laugh. "I'm Julianne Lane."
He apologized to the young lady before backtracking and stopping directly in front of Jules. His forehead was creased. "Signorina, you are Lizzie's sister?"
She nodded. Her pigtails bobbed. He wasn't the first person to be surprised by her unconventional appearance. She'd given up a long time ago trying to live up to everyone's expectations. And she'd been dressing this way so long now that it came naturally.
The same couldn't be said about him. He looked as if he'd just walked off the cover of a men's fashion magazine. His navy blue suit was perfectly tailored to show off his broad shoulders, and the gray dress shirt was unbuttoned just enough to show off a hint of his muscular chest.
Jules swallowed hard. Wow! No wonder Lizzie lost her heart here. They sure made them hot and sexy in Italy.
With effort, she forced her gaze upward to meet his serious stare. "Is there a problem?"
"Umm no." The lines on his forehead smoothed. "Lizzie is your sister, isn't she?"
Jules's chest tightened. "Yes. Is she all right?"
His dark brows rose as his warm brown eyes seemed to hold her captive. "Yes, she is."
Jules breathed out a pent-up breath. "Don't do that."
"Scare me. I thought something had happened to my sister."
"I assure you that she's perfectly fine. But something came up and she asked me to pick you up."
"You should have said that part first." She glanced over at the luggage carousel, which had started to move. Before she could ask him anymore questions, the luggage appeared on the conveyor belt. "I'll be right with you. I just need to grab my bag."
She could feel the man's curious gaze boring into her back. She wondered what he was thinking, but something told her she was better off not knowing.
And then her black suitcase with the large white circle pattern dropped onto the conveyer belt. She shifted her carry-on so that it was resting against her back and out of her way to grab the large piece of luggage.
As she reached for it, the man stepped between her and the belt. "Let me grab that for you. Which is it?"
"Don't bother. I've got it." She didn't need him going out of his way for her. She wasn't some spoiled rich girl. Not by anyone's imagination. She'd been taking care of herself for a long time. Maybe that's what always scared men off. She didn't need them.
The man's eyes widened as he backed away. "Ms. Lane, I only meant to help."
She grabbed the suitcase and swung it around to place it on the floor beside her. "I appreciate your offer, but I'm used to taking care of myself. And, by the way, I prefer to go by Jules. Who would you be?"
"I'm Stefano DeFiore. Dante's older brother."
Lizzie had mentioned in passing that Dante had a brother, but she'd never mentioned how good-looking he was or that he would be meeting her at the airport. "Nice to meet you."
She smiled and stuck out her hand. He hesitated for a moment before glancing quickly to the left and then to the right before his hand encased hers. Was he looking around to see if anyone noticed that he hadn't gotten her luggage for her?
Really? He was that worried about what everyone thought?
And then the smile slipped from her face. Her stomach plummeted. She realized the real reason for his awkwardness. He was embarrassed to be seen with her.
What kind of family was Lizzie marrying into?
Stefano DeFiore found himself utterly mesmerizedand that was something that he never let happen.
He struggled to keep his gaze anywhere but on the delicate tiny blueor was it purple?butterfly body art flirting with the beginning of the swell of her breasts Just above the diving neckline of her black top. He found it and her absolutely fascinating. And that was not good.
He swallowed hard and drew his focus back up to her face. His brother and his soon-to-be sister-in-law should have picked up Julesnot him. But family takes care of family.
Jules was undeniably intriguing but not in the usual manner. Her goth style was unique, to say the least. And then there was the purplish lipstick, heavy black eyeliner and the stuff on her eyelashes that set off her look. He was anxious to see the woman beneath it all.
He certainly didn't know what to make of JulianneermJules. Lizzie hadn't given any hints that her sister was so different from her in every way. Lizzie was tall, fair and blonde; Jules was the opposite. She was shorter in stature with dark brown hair in twin ponytails and long sweeping bangs that she brushed off to the side.
Realizing he was staring, he said, "We should get moving. Lizzie should be done with her meeting when we get there."
"Get where?" Jules eyed him as though she wasn't planning to budge.
She didn't trust him. It was a new experience for him. There had been a time in his life when he didn't have a problem putting the female persuasion at ease. But he wasn't exactly acting like the old smooth-talking guy he used to be. Things had changed a lot in recent years.
Combine that with his concerns over his younger brother's sudden wedding announcement and the fact that he'd been elected to play chauffeur today without so much as waiting for him to agree and he was left feeling out of sorts.
Stefano swallowed down his agitation and tried to soften his tone. "I'm dropping you off at Dante's place, Ristorante Massimo. It's not that far from here."
She gave him one last hard look as though making up her mind about him. "Sounds like a plan. Let's get moving."
He reached for her suitcase but then hesitated, recalling how she'd expressed her desire to remain independent. He returned his hand to his side as she extended the handle on her luggage. He merely shook his head and turned away. His lack of understanding where women were concerned had cost him dearly not so long ago. Since then he'd learned to refrain from flirting with them. Relationships were a thing of the past for him.
So then why did he find Jules so intriguing? He couldn't help casting her the occasional glance. It had to be her pigtails. Did grown women really wear those? He smiled. They did look cute on her.
But it was the butterfly that kept him distracted. He pictured it in his mind's eye. He had to admit that he'd never been intrigued by a tattoo before. His late wife had had a fear of needles, so getting any sort of body art wasn't even a possibility. And they'd lived out in the country where that sort of thing wasn't popular in the nearby village.
When his shoulder collided with someone, he glanced up. "Scusi."
He could feel Jules's gaze on him, but he pretended not to notice. He wasn't about to let on that her little butterfly had him distracted to the point of not watching where he was walking. After all, he was a DeFiore. DeFiores didn't allow themselves to be distracted.
Once they were situated in his sleek black luxury sedan, which he only used when escorting around special guests of the DeFiore Vineyard, he turned to Jules. Her body was stiff and her hands were clasped in her lap. He supposed that was to be expected. He hadn't exactly made her feel welcome. He really needed to try harder. After all, it was important to Dante that this visit go well.
Stefano was about to say something when that darn butterfly once again snagged his attention. It rose and fell with her every breath. He was being ridiculous. It was just an inconsequential tattoothat teased and taunted him.
He turned and stared blindly out the windshield. "Is this your first trip to Rome?"
"Yes, it is." Jules turned to him, but he kept his gaze directly ahead. "What happened? I mean, Lizzie was supposed to pick me up."
"She didn't tell you?"
"No. My phone battery died, so I haven't been able to talk to her."
This was his chance to see what Jules thought of the impending nuptials. He was curious to see if she thought they were a bit rushed. "When Dante called, he said that the announcement of their engagement made a big splash with the paparazzi, and the studio heads wanted to figure out how to work the wedding into an upcoming show."
"What does their wedding have to do with a cooking show?"
"My thoughts exactly. Maybe it'll delay the wedding."
"Why would you say that?" Suspicion laced every syllable.
This is where he had to move carefully. He sensed Jules's defenses kicking into gear, and he didn't blame her. He'd react the same way if he thought someone was about to jeopardize his brother's happiness.
Again Jules's taunting butterfly came to mind as well as her different taste in clothes. Something told him that she wasn't a traditionalist like his family was. Maybe she was one of those live-on-a-whim types? Even if it meant letting people set themselves up to get hurt?
Like he'd done to himself.
Like he'd done to his late wife.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book written by Jennifer Faye. It was a wonderful story and well written. I saw a young woman struggling with decisions that would make her happy in the long run and not make others happy. She had to make those decisions on her own and she did. It was a wonderful book. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks Jennifer Faye for writing it.
Best Man for the Bridesmaid is a sweet and romantic read. I enjoyed seeing Stefano open up his heart again and Jules find what she most wanted in life. ARC received in exchange for an honest review
3 Stars I liked this book well enough. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. This is a decent little book to read if you have a little bit of time to fill but nothing in the story really stood out in my opinion. When I read this book, I was actually looking for a light read that I could finish during a road trip and this book fit my needs perfectly. Jules comes to Italy to see her sister, Lizzie. She is soon enlisted to stay and help pull together a wedding for Lizzie and Dante. She finds herself with Dante's brother, Stefano a lot during this visit starting with the moment she steps off the plane. Jules accepts Stefano's offer to stay at the villa during her visit because she feels a little uncomfortable around Lizzie and Dante. Stefano finds himself right in the middle of all of the wedding planning and it seems that he and Jules are responsible for planning the whole event. Stefano has given up on love. He tried once and it ended badly and he believes that the DeFiore men are cursed since things seem to always end tragically. He still finds himself strongly attracted to Jules even though she is very different than anyone else he has ever met. I found this book to be very predictable in a way that can be somewhat common in romances. Of course, I knew right away that Jules and Stefano would be a couple before the book was over. I liked them together well enough but there was never any moment in the book that really pulled me in emotionally. I also found that I really needed to just kind of go with this story because there were a few things that I found to be highly improbable. I still don't understand why Jules and Stefano were planning Lizzie and Dante's wedding without any real help from the couple actually getting married. I mean does that kind of thing ever really happen? I also thought that it was a bit crazy to think that Jules would come to a whole different country to visit her sister and then choose not to stay with her during her visit. She didn't even see very much of her during this story. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, easy romantic story. I think that this book could be read as a stand alone novel without any trouble although there are a few topics carried over from the first book, The Playboy of Rome. I received a copy of this book from author for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Jules Lane works in a coffee shop in New York City while she is finishing her graduate degree. Her foster sister Lizzie is getting married in Italy and she travels over there to help Lizzie with the wedding preparations. As it happens the best man, Stefano DeFiore, will be helping her, albeit reluctantly. Jules thinks he’s hot: he looks like a GQ cover model; she’s not Stefano’s type: she dresses like a Goth, mostly in purple and black and she wears too much makeup but she intrigues him. Stefano cannot help wonder who is the woman who lurks behind the makeup and flashy clothes. Stefano is aloof, but they have to get acquainted since they will be family soon. BEST MAN FOR THE BRIDESMAID is the second book in the DeFiore Brothers series but it can easily be read as a standalone. Stefano and Jules are both hiding behind tragic events from their past, and I love how Ms. Faye brings them together: their relationship progresses organically. I love Stefano: he’s a nice man, for once not a dominant Alpha male, but he sounds like a real person. He’s stubborn in his pain, while Jules is a fabulous heroine who goes after what she wants when things get desperate. I must add that there is no explicit sex in BEST MAN FOR THE BRIDESMAID although there is plenty of sexual chemistry between Stefano and Jules. It’s very well written, the story flows easily, and I imagined myself in Italy for a little while. I thought it was a beautiful, simple, and lovely love story, and I look forward to more books by Jennifer Faye.