Chosen As The Frenchman's Bride

Chosen As The Frenchman's Bride

by Abby Green

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Overview

Chosen As The Frenchman's Bride by Abby Green

Tall, bronzed Frenchman Xavier Salgado-Lézille isn't a man a girl can say no to easily. Jane tries to play it cool, but she's inexperienced…and a virgin. Falling in love isn't part of the plan…neither is discovering she's pregnant once the affair is over.

Xavier knows she's carrying his child, and he wants an heir. Jane has been chosen as his bride!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426800139
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Series: Expecting! , #2626
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 121,286
File size: 174 KB

About the Author

Abby Green spent her teens reading Mills & Boon romances. She then spent many years working in the Film and TV industry as an Assistant Director. One day while standing outside an actor's trailer in the rain, she thought: there has to be more than this. So she sent off a partial to Harlequin Mills & Boon. After many rewrites, they accepted her first book and an author was born. She lives in Dublin, Ireland and you can find out more here: www.abby-green.com

Read an Excerpt

Earlier that day—

JANE VAUGHAN wandered up and down the bustling jetty with a frown appearing over the ridge of her sunglasses. She couldn't remember exactly which gate she'd been at yesterday; now there were lots of bobbing boats and people lining up to get on board. the man she'd approached had taken no deposit, nor given her a ticket, but instead had reassured her that if she came back to him he would make sure she got on the right boat—the only problem now was that she couldn't spot him anywhere.

Bumping into that stranger in the street just afterwards must have scrambled her brain more than she'd thought. She shook her head wryly. She'd never thought herself to be the kind of woman that would spend a night fantasising about someone she had bumped into for mere moments. A newly familiar heat flooded her belly, however, as his tall, powerful body and hard-boned face swam into her mind's eye, his image still as vivid as if he were standing right in front of her. She shook her head again, this time to shake free of the memory. Honestly, this was so unlike her.

She went towards a gate that looked familiar, tagging onto the end of a queue. When she got to the man at the top he seemed a little harassed. At her query of, "Excusez-moi. C'est le bâteau pour les îles?" he just gestured impatiently into the boat. She hesitated for a moment, before figuring what was the worst that could happen? So if she didn't end up exactly where she'd expected to then it would be an adventure. they were going somewhere, and she was on holiday, not everything had to be strictly organised. She needed to relax more.

Once they were underway she had to admit grudgingly that she was enjoying the breeze and the sun across her shoulders and bare legs. the brightly patterned halterneck dress she wore was a present from her friend Lisa, given with an order to make herself more visible.

She pushed her sunglasses onto her head, tipping her face up to the sun, and for the first time since landing on the Côte D'Azur a week ago felt a rush of wellbeing and freedom. She didn't even really miss her friend's presence. Lisa was meant to have travelled with her—after all, it was her family's villa that Jane was staying in. But at the last minute Lisa's father had been rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack, and this very week was undergoing a delicate operation. the conversation she'd had with Lisa the night before her departure had been rushed, but her friend had been insistent.

"Janey, if you don't go then I'll feel guilty on top of everything else. Anyway, you'll be doing us a favour. No one has been at the house for months, and it needs to be aired, so look at it like that."

"But I can't just leave when you might need me most—"

"Look," Lisa pointed out, "you know my family. it'll be like Picadilly Circus in the hospital, and we've been assured Dad is going to be fine— Seeing your little face here would only upset me, and I mean that in a good way."

She knew Lisa was just being brave, that the outcome was anything but assured, and didn't want to put her under any more pressure.

"OK, OK."

Jane had given in. Lisa was right; there wasn't anything she could do. With a formidable mother, four sisters and three brothers she would only get in the way. And of the three brothers one in particular was intent on pursuing Jane. Not sure how she felt about Dominic, who was lovely, if a little dull, Jane was well aware that the campaign would have been taken up with enthusiasm by Lisa had she had the opportunity.

She got up and wandered over to the railing, shades back on against the glare of the sun, the sea spray catching her every now and then.

She still couldn't help a little pang of guilt at enjoying her solitude so much. She really hadn't expected to embrace it, but for the first time in her twenty-six years she was truly alone, without the crushing responsibility she'd carried for so long.

And it felt good!

Looking up from her contemplation of the foaming sea, she saw that they were approaching an island. Something about it, rising majestically from the water, made her shiver—as if someone had just run a finger down her spine. it was a forbidding rock, softened only by the sandy beach and picturesque houses that surrounded the small harbour. the sun glinted off the water as the boat docked and they disembarked. On the jetty, as she waited with the other passengers to be told where to go, her mind wandered back to danger territory, as if it had been waiting patiently in the wings until she'd stopped thinking of other things. She tried to resist, but it was too strong, yet again she re-lived the events of yesterday—that burning moment in the streets near the harbour came flooding back.

She'd escaped the crowded pedestrian area, feeling somewhat claustrophobic, and stumbled into a charming winding street that had been blessedly quiet, with no sign of any tourists. She had looked for a street name to figure out where she was; she wanted to explore more of this sleepy part of the town.

With her map open, trying to walk and read at the same time, she'd been unaware of the approaching corner. She had looked up briefly, there had been a flash of something, and she'd crashed into a wall.

Except it hadn't been a wall, because a wall wouldn't have reached out and clamped hard hands on her upper arms. Winded and stunned, the map slipping from her fingers, she'd realised that she'd bumped into a man. Her gaze, on a level with a T-shirt-clad broad chest, had moved up, and up again, before coming face to face with the most beautiful pair of green eyes she'd ever seen—like the green of a distant oasis in the desert—in a dark olive-skinned face, with black brows drawn together forbiddingly. Her jaw had dropped.

It had been only then that she'd become aware of her own hands, curled around his biceps, where they had gone automatically to steady herself. And with that awareness had come the feel of bunched muscle beneath his warm, silky skin. they had flexed lightly under her fingertips as his arms held her, and out of nowhere came a spiking of pleasure so intense and alien through her entire body that she'd felt her eyes open wide in shock. His gaze had moved down to her mouth, and she'd had a weightless, almost out-of-body feeling, as if they hadn't been in a side street, as if this hadn't really been happening.

The spell had been jarringly broken when a shrill voice had sounded. Jane's gaze had shifted with effort to take in a stunning blonde woman rounding the corner, her stream of incomprehensible French directed at the man. His hands had tightened momentarily before he'd dipped from view and come back up with her map in his hand. he'd held it out to her wordlessly, a slightly mocking smile on his mouth. She'd taken it, and before she had even been able to say sorry, or thank you, the blonde had grabbed the man's attention and with a scant glance at Jane had urged him away, looking at her watch with exaggerated motions. And he had disappeared.

Jane had stood, still stunned, her body energised to a point of awareness just short of pain. She had still been able to feel the imprint of his hands on her arms. She'd lifted fingers to her lips, which had tingled—as if he had actually touched them. it had been just seconds, a mere moment, but she'd felt as though she'd stood there with him for hours. the most bizarre and disturbing feeling. And then she had remembered his enigmatic smile, as if he'd known exactly what effect he was having on her. Arrogant, as if it was expected.

Jane's reverie ended abruptly as she found that she was following the other tourists onto a small air-conditioned bus. She vowed that that was the last time she would indulge herself in thinking about that man. the last time she would indulge the fantasy she'd had of sitting across a table from him, sharing an intimate dinner, candlelight flickering, picking up the silverware and sparkling glasses. Those green eyes holding hers, not letting her look away. She quashed the silly flutter in her belly and took in the other people on the bus, leaning over to a young couple about her age across the aisle.

"Excuse me, do you know where we are?"

The woman leant across her boyfriend, replying with a strong American accent. "Honey, this is Lézille Island—but you'd know that, coming from the hotel—aren't you a guest?

"No!" Jane clapped a hand to her mouth. "I'm not in a hotel—I thought this was just a general trip!"

Dismayed, she wondered what she should do, she hadn't paid for this trip— She belatedly remembered asking the man if this was the boat to les îles—the islands, in French, which sounded exactly like the name of this island. Lézille. No wonder he had just ushered her on board.

The other woman waved a hand. "Oh, don't worry. I won't say anything, and no one will notice—you just bagged yourself a free trip!"

Jane smiled weakly. She hated any sort of subterfuge. But maybe it wasn't such a big deal. She could always follow them back to their hotel afterwards and offer to pay for the trip. She felt a little better with that thought.

The woman told her that they were due to visit a vineyard for some wine-tasting, and afterwards to take in an aerial display. Jane gave in and relaxed, and started to enjoy the mystery tour nature of the trip—this was exactly what she needed.

The vineyard was enormous, with beautifully kept rows of vines. they were shown every part of the winemaking process—which Jane had to admit was more interesting than she would have expected. the name on the bottles sounded familiar—as had the name of the island.

When they emerged at the other end of the buildings, they could see what looked like a medieval castle in the distance. Again she felt that funny sensation—almost like déjà vu.

"You know this island is owned by a billionaire who lives in that castle?"

Jane looked around the see the friendly woman from the bus. "No—no, I don't know anything about it."

Her voice lowered dramatically. "Well, apparently he owns half the coast too—his family go back centuries— He's so private, he only allows people to visit a few times a year. there's all sorts of stories about—" She broke off when her boyfriend came and dragged her away to see something.

Jane looked back to the castle. it certainly looked as if it could have been around in the Middle Ages. On a small island like this, she guessed it could have been some kind of protective fortress.

After another short trip in the bus, along a picturesque strip of coastline, they were deposited in a big green field, full of wild flowers, with an airstrip at the far end. A dozen planes were lined up in readiness. there was a fiesta-like atmosphere, with families stretched out around the ground with picnics, stalls set up with drinks, food and handicrafts. A small stone building to the side looked like some kind of museum, and on closer inspection Jane discovered that it was. She just gave it a brief look, before wandering over to see the stalls, where she bought some bread and cheese for a light lunch, noticing that everyone else seemed to have brought picnics.

Suddenly her arm was grabbed. "We haven't introduced ourselves. I'm Sherry, and this is Brad. We're on honeymoon from New York. You should stick with us if you're on your own."

The woman from the bus barely allowed Jane to get a word in edgeways to introduce herself as they led her away to a spot they had picked out on the grass. it was nice to have the company as she ate her meagre lunch, and they turned out to be very friendly, insisting on sharing their wine and fruit.

After lunch Jane noticed men in flight suits walking towards the small planes from a hangar area, and the crowd got up and started to cheer. Soon there was one last pilot walking to his plane. With the sun in her eyes, he just was a shape in the distance.

A hush went around the field and, wondering at the strange reaction, Jane lifted a hand to shade her eyes—and stiffened when she saw more clearly who it was. it was the man from the street; she was sure of it. He was unmistakable. His impressive build and height set him apart.

Before she knew what she was doing she was on her feet with the rest of the crowd. He had an innately powerful grace, commanding attention as he strode towards the plane. Clearly the leader. On a gesture from him, the other pilots started up.

When he got into the plane, something in Jane's stomach fell, and she found she couldn't sit down again and relax. As they took off one by one, he being the last, she unconsciously clenched her fists. the display probably only took fifteen minutes but to Jane it seemed to go on for ever. Her eyes never left his plane, a ball lodging in her gut. She couldn't explain or fathom the completely irrational fear she felt; she just knew that nothing could move her from the spot until that plane was back on the ground and he walked out, safe.

He flew as though he had a death wish. Dizzying turns and ever increasingly daring stunts had the crowd gasping in unison and clapping. He was the last to land, watched by the other pilots, their respect obvious.

When he stepped out of the plane to thunderous applause, Jane unclenched her fists, noticing that her nails had carved half moons into her palms. Unbelievably she felt anger towards him—this complete stranger!

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Chosen as the Frenchman's Bride (Harlequin Presents #2626) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really like the story but the heroine 's excuse for keeping her distance after marriage doesn't make sense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend
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This book was enjoyable!
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