I can't marry you. You don't love me.
Two sentences, that's all Gabrielle Harper left Vito D'Ascensio when she vanished the night before their wedding. If he wants his bride back, he's going to have to hunt her down and prove his love. But when he searches for Gabrielle, he finds Gabby instead; it seems his perfect bride is nothing but a fantasy.
After six months, Gabby presumes it's over, an episode in her life she's totally ashamed of. But now Vito is back. He's the one man she can never have, but as desire explodes between them, she has a tough time remembering why they shouldn't be together. Oh, right, her family hates him, and he's done terrible things. Or has he? But it doesn't matter. When he finds out the truth about who she really is…he'll never want to see her again.
Each book in the Things to do Before You Die series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 His Fantasy Girl
Book #2 Her Fantasy Husband
Book #3 His Fantasy Bride
About the Author
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of nine-to-five work. She's since then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary), and has settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina writes all types of romance, often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.
Read an Excerpt
His Fantasy Bride
A Things To Do Before You Die Novel
By Nina Croft, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Nina Croft
All rights reserved.
Today would have been the six-month anniversary of her wedding.
If I hadn't run.
The thought caught Gabby in an unguarded moment. For a second her surroundings faded and she was back under the warm Sicilian sun. With Vito.
Her feet faltered — the dancer on her right whirled around, rammed into her, and Gabby crashed to the stage floor with a thump, the air knocked from her lungs. She lay for a minute, gazing at the sea of multicolored legs around her and the empty chairs in the front row.
"Crap," she muttered, pushing herself up onto her hands and knees and then to her feet, brushing down her purple leotard and hitching up her bubblegum pink legwarmers. The music stopped and everyone's attention focused on her. She gave a shrug. "Sorry."
It had been her fault; she'd turned the wrong way. Luckily it was only a rehearsal, but all the same — she was better than this.
Get a grip, wuss.
"Perhaps we could have a little more attention, Gabby." The choreographer's voice held more than a hint of sarcasm. "And we might all get home before midnight." Yeah, that would be good — it was only eleven in the morning, and they had a show tonight.
She was the newest member of the cast of a long-running West End musical, but that shouldn't have made a difference. She was a professional. It didn't help that her miserable state was self-inflicted. Her head pounded from too many chocolate-strawberry martinis the night before. She'd gone out with her bestie Theresa and drunk way too much, drowning her sorrows.
Not that she had anything to be sorrowful about. Not really. Her mum was doing well, responding to the treatment, and her brother was out of trouble — fingers crossed the little monster would stay that way.
And finally, she had a good job. Yay!
Not as good as the one she'd lost when she broke her arm, but good enough to pay the rent if she ever got off her pathetic backside and looked for a place of her own instead of Theresa's couch. And if she didn't mess up, the job would go on for a long time. The show had been running for years; there was no reason to believe it would end anytime soon.
Which all meant that there was absolutely no reason to feel so goddamn miserable all the time.
Just don't think about a certain Sicilian.
A face flashed up in her mind — a stunningly flawless face, with sharp cheekbones, eyes like bitter chocolate, and the longest, blackest lashes she had ever seen.
Oh God, I just thought about Vito. Total bummer.
She jumped and found everyone still staring at her.
"Are you ready?"
She gave a quick nod. "Yes, boss."
The music started, and she forced everything from her mind and, thankfully, soon lost herself in the rhythm. She loved that moment when the dance and music took over, her surroundings faded, and she was transported to another world. She danced until her legs ached and a sheen of sweat covered her body. She was just congratulating herself on not putting a foot wrong when she raised her head and caught sight of a tall figure standing in the aisle.
Her mind went blank, her feet tangled, and for a second time that morning, she crashed to the floor. This time she lay with her eyes tight shut, unwilling to open them until someone nudged her in the side.
She peeked through her lashes, stared at the spot, but the man was gone. A figment of her imagination? Not a chance in hell. She wasn't that lucky.
She scrambled to her feet. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," she mumbled, giving another little shrug. "I got distracted. It won't happen again. Super big promise."
"We'll start from the beginning."
The rest of the dancers groaned, but as far as Gabby was concerned, he could keep them there all day and past midnight. Here on the stage, she was someone else, and real life couldn't touch her.
But once she left the stage, all bets were off.
* * *
Madre di Christo.
Vittorio D'Ascensio backed up and collapsed into one of the crimson velvet seats at the rear of the auditorium, never taking his gaze from the stage and the woman he'd come to find.
What the hell?
He would never have recognized her if she hadn't fallen over and drawn attention to herself. Even then, it had taken long moments for him to realize that this was his Gabrielle.
It was inconceivable, as though the world had tilted, leaving him floundering and off-balance. For a moment it was as though he was back on that burning ship, struggling for air, in a world turned to chaos. He'd nearly died that night three weeks ago, and it had been Gabrielle's image that had kept him going, given him the strength to fight his way out of there. To survive.
Confronting death could have a profound effect on a man, bringing him face-to-face with his regrets. Afterward, in the lifeboat, Vito had made a vow that he would find Gabrielle, convince her that he did love her, persuade her to come back to him.
He rubbed a finger over the scar that ran down his cheek from his eye to his upper lip — a constant reminder of that night and the vow he'd made.
Now here he was.
The loud music assaulted his ears, thumping in his head. She'd told him she was a classical ballerina on a hiatus as she waited for a wrist injury to heal. This was as far from classical ballet as it was possible to get. All the same, he couldn't drag his gaze from her figure as she moved to the music. She was so ... colorful. Gabrielle had always been subdued, tasteful. This woman was bright, like a tropical bird, in a purple leotard and pink leggings, her hair pulled into a high ponytail.
Six months ago, he'd fully expected to marry Gabrielle; she'd been everything he'd ever wanted ... his fantasy bride. Then the night before the wedding, she'd vanished, leaving him a note, just two sentences which made no sense then or now.
"I can't marry you. You don't love me."
Did she believe he'd been unfaithful, that there was someone else? But why?
Maybe he should have gone after her back then, but he'd wanted her — no needed her — to come back of her own accord. He didn't make mistakes. He couldn't have been so totally wrong about them. So he'd thrown himself into his work, every day expecting her to turn up and tell him she'd just needed time. But months had passed and nothing. It had taken a life and death situation to accept she wasn't coming back to him. If he wanted to discover the truth, then he had to go out and hunt it down.
But he'd never expected to find this.
Watching her supple body dance in the fitted leotard that clung to the swell of her breasts, her narrow waist, the curve of her hips, his body reacted almost instantly, growing hot and hard.
They'd never made love. She'd always backed off, and he'd respected that, believing she wanted to wait for marriage. He wouldn't have held it against her if she hadn't been a virgin, but all the same, he'd liked the fact that he would be her first. It had evoked some primordial feeling inside him.
It also meant he hadn't slept with a woman since he first caught sight of her all those months ago. Now, he couldn't take his eyes from her. As he watched, she turned around, bent over from the waist, her ass facing him. She glanced over her shoulder, and he almost exploded.
This was unexpected. He'd always wanted her, but never with the urgency that now coursed through his body.
He sat unmoving for maybe an hour, thoughts churning in his mind.
If he confronted her now, would she tell him why she'd doubted his love? Would she have an explanation as to why she'd vanished without a trace, changed her cell phone, left her old address?
He'd been aware he'd rushed her, but he'd wanted to make her his, to prove his commitment — a commitment he'd never been able to give to any woman before. Had he come on too strong and frightened her away?
Something churned in his gut.
Finally, the music stopped, and the dancers left the stage. He watched until she disappeared from sight, then rose to his feet.
Time to get some answers.
* * *
At least she'd managed to get through the routine without another slip-up.
A prickle ran down her spine as she headed for the changing room. Gabby made sure she was in the middle of the group. She was shorter than most of the dancers and hidden from view. But it also meant she couldn't see much of what was around her.
Not that she wanted to see. She kept her eyes on the ground, but her heart was hammering.
Why was he here?
Why now? Six months had passed. If he was going to come after her, why hadn't he come before? She'd presumed she was safe, and it was over — an episode in her life that she was totally ashamed of. But at the time she'd felt she had no choice. Hell, she had had no choice. She'd needed the money. Besides, when Luciano Scarlesi had put the proposition to her, it hadn't sounded like such a bad thing. She was doing something for the family.
Her dad had married Luca's aunt, Maria Scarlesi, when Gabby was seven. Consequently, she'd grown up on the edges of the sprawling Scarlesi family, and she knew all about Sicilian family vendettas and how the wicked D'Ascensio family had ruined the Scarlesis and driven them out of Sicily. Now she had a chance to help them right an old wrong.
And she'd wanted to help. She'd never really felt like she belonged. Hell, she didn't even look the part, a blonde and blue-eyed alien surrounded by a sea of black hair and dark eyes. This was her chance to do something, to prove she really was part of the family.
"Did you see that total hottie?" Sally asked, fanning her face, as the door to the dressing room shut behind them.
With the words, the last hope that she'd somehow conjured up his image, drained away. "Total hottie" just about summed Vito up. He was all long, lean muscles wrapped in golden skin. The body of a Greek god and the face of an Adonis. She'd known she was in trouble from the moment she'd first seen him; he'd been way more charismatic in real life than the photos Luca had shown her. She'd only kept her hands off him because of guilt and the ability to completely submerge herself in her role.
She was a good girl.
A good actress, maybe.
She'd always had a thing for Mediterranean men. After all, Luca had been her first crush, but perhaps best not to go there. "Best not go there" seemed to be the recurring theme with her love life.
But it looked like she wasn't going to have a choice in the matter. She was going there whether she liked it or not.
She kicked off her shoes and sank down onto the stool in front of the mirror that ran along one wall of the changing rooms, but she didn't even see her reflection. Maybe if she sat here long enough, he would lose interest and go away. The chatter of the other girls washed over her. Her mind was numb; she had no clue what to do. What to say to him. Obviously, the truth wasn't an option. But she was done with lying.
Maybe she could fake a case of bronchitis and pretend she'd lost her voice — except he'd no doubt seen and heard her sing on the stage.
She liked that one.
The room slowly emptied out, and still she didn't move. Finally, the door clicked shut behind the last of her workmates, and she shifted on the stool. She couldn't stay here forever.
Or could she? They'd find her mummified corpse years from now ... Maybe not.
She glanced around — there was no other exit, not even a window to jump out of, and the only other door led to a bathroom. A rack with the costumes stood along the wall opposite. A disguise perhaps. Or a hiding place.
She was being pathetic.
Just get it over with.
But put some clothes on first.
She definitely didn't want to face her ex-fiancé in nothing but a leotard, tights, and legwarmers. She stood up and reached for her sweats as the door handle turned ... and the world stopped.
Oh, hell. Too late.
* * *
He'd been loitering outside for half an hour, like some lovesick admirer, as one by one, the other women had exited what he presumed was the changing room.
But no Gabrielle.
She was in there. He was sure. She couldn't have gotten past him and left the building.
The door opened, and his breath caught in his throat ... then released on a sigh as yet another stranger appeared. She glanced at him curiously, and he stepped forward.
"I'm looking for Gabrielle Harper," he said.
She gave a little pout but then nodded back toward the dressing room. "Gabby? She's in there."
He stared at the door as if willing it to open. What would she say?
When nothing happened and another five minutes passed, he took a deep breath and stepped toward the door. He almost expected it to be locked but the handle turned, and he pushed it open.
It led into a long, narrow room, but his surroundings faded because there she was.
She stood only a few feet away, a startled expression in her wide blue eyes. He pushed the door open further and stepped into the room, enveloped instantly in a wave of feminine perfumes. She took a step back.
He released the door, and it swung shut behind him, the click loud in the silence.
She stared at him for long moments. He stared back. She was the same but completely different. She'd always worn her hair in a tidy blond bob, cut off neat at the shoulders. Now it was pulled into a high messy pony tail and the blond was mixed with bright magenta streaks. Her face was free of makeup, where before she'd always worn a small amount, subtle and understated. Now her skin was clear, her lips dark pink, pouty. His eyes skimmed over her face and then back — she had a diamond stud in her nose, and he started in shock.
It occurred to him that he would never have looked twice at this woman. She reminded him too much of his students, young and edgy and off-limits. It was one of his unspoken rules — never get involved with anyone at his work, and certainly not a student.
But Gabrielle wasn't a student, and she was twenty-four — five years younger than him. At least, that's what she'd told him, though now he was beginning to question everything.
He'd always thought her classically beautiful. Now she looked ... sexy. Her heart-shaped face had a dimple in the chin. Her nose was small, her cheekbones high, and her eyes huge and midnight blue.
He cleared his throat and dropped his gaze.
She still wore the purple leotard, and it was skin-tight and clinging to her curves. Cristo, he could see her nipples pressed against the soft material, and the blood drained to his groin. Her breasts were small but rounded. He was pretty sure she was naked beneath the thin material and saliva flooded his mouth.
She still hadn't spoken, just stood there staring back at him, her gaze fixed on his face. Then she took a step toward him. Her hand reached out, and she stroked a finger down over his cheekbone.
Of course, the scar. That was new.
"What happened?" she murmured and even her voice had a sexy edge, low and husky. He'd always thought she had a beautiful voice but never considered it sexy. Maybe this wasn't Gabrielle. A twin sister? With the same name? Unlikely.
He shook his head. What had she said?
Her finger caressed the curve of his cheek. The scar? That was it. He cleared his throat. "An accident. On a cruise ship. I was hit by a burning cable."
He shrugged. "It could have been worse."
Her hand dropped to her side, and she studied him, her head cocked. While she wasn't short for a woman, she only came to his shoulder, and this close, looking down, he could see the swell of her breasts above the tight material. He tried to focus on her face.
"It suits you," she said after a minute. "You were too perfect before."
If he was so goddamn perfect, why had she run? The first flickers of anger licked along his nerves. She'd clearly moved on with her life — a completely different life than he had imagined.
"Why?" he asked, and the word came out as a growl, harsher than he'd intended.
She took a step back, her eyes widening. He'd never spoken to her in anger. He always kept his temper in check. Anger never achieved anything, but now he could feel it churning in his gut, rising up, unfamiliar, and tipping him further off balance.
She looked away, licked her lips with a small pointed tongue and heat flared up, mingling with the rage. Her gaze returned to his face, and she focused on his lips.
"I think I need to kiss you."
At first, the words made no sense. They were certainly not what he expected, but then nothing about this encounter was like anything he'd imagined. And he could think of absolutely nothing to say. Then she took a step toward him, and his mind slid into chaos. He tried one last time. "We should talk —"
She stopped him with a finger to his lips. "Later. Kiss me first, and then we'll talk."
This close he could breathe in her warm scent — sweat mingled with a sharp, citrusy perfume, as unfamiliar as the rest of her. She'd worn Chanel when he'd known her before. Her hands rose to rest on his shoulders, and she came up on tiptoe.
He should move, back away. He'd come here to talk, to find out what had gone wrong between them. Persuade her to come back and give him another chance.
Excerpted from His Fantasy Bride by Nina Croft, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2016 Nina Croft. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Title: His Fantasy Bride - Things To Do Before You DIe Book 3 Author: Nina Croft Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC Published: 7-11-2016 Pages: 200 Genre: Romance Sub-Genre: Contemporary Fiction ISBN: 9781633756663 ASIN: B01HB7GGE8 Reviewed For NetGalley and Entangled Publishing LLC Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.25 Starts I can’t marry you. You don’t love me. Two sentences, that’s all Gabrielle Harper left Vito D’Ascensio when she vanished the night before their wedding. If he wants his bride back, he’s going to have to hunt her down and prove his love. But when he searches for Gabrielle, he finds Gabby instead; it seems his perfect bride is nothing but a fantasy. After six months, Gabby presumes it’s over, an episode in her life she’s totally ashamed of. But now Vito is back. He’s the one man she can never have, but as desire explodes between them, she has a tough time remembering why they shouldn’t be together. Oh, right, her family hates him, and he’s done terrible things. Or has he? But it doesn’t matter. When he finds out the truth about who she really is…he’ll never want to see her again. Nina Croft has a short trilogy of books. The third and final book in the Group tells of a young woman who runs when she realizes that he doesn't love her and her family will forever make her life a trial. Vito goes in search of his bride to be and finds a wild thing even more perfect for him. My rating of "His Fantasy Bride" is 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Vito D'Ascensio nearly died when the cruise ship sank. His biggest regret was not going after his runaway bride. He didn't understand why Gabrielle ran away on the eve of their wedding. Now that he survived he's determined to find her and make her his. Is he prepared for the truth? Gabby made a poor choice when she agreed to get to know Vito. Luca, her best friend's brother, wanted her to spy on his enemy. She agreed. Unfortunately she fell for Vito so she ran away, but she can't forget him. What happens when he tracks her down is a roller coaster ride of passion and heartbreak. The chemistry between Gabby and Vito is intense. As expected the truth tears them apart. Vito is angry. He's hurt by her lies, but he doesn't know the full story. Can he forgive her once he knows the truth? I had to have answers. I liked these characters and wanted them to get their HEA. Nina Croft did an excellent job! She kept me on the edge of my seat. I received a copy in exchange for an honest and unscripted review.
sweet 2nd chance bridal romance story This is a sweet but somewhat sad story about a woman who fell in love with a man under false pretenses. His Fantasy Bride is the story of Gabrielle Harper and Vito D’Ascensio. Gabby left Vito right before their wedding 6 months before because she had a secret and couldn’t marry him with that secret hanging over her head. That secret involved Vito—Gabby left before she could tell Vito her secret. After an accident on a ship that almost cost Vito his life...he decided to find Gabby. Gabby is surprised to see Vito and tries to avoid him but Vito refuses to let her do that. Vito is still in love with her and wants to work things out but Gabby knows the secret will blow his love away and kill that love for her. When Gabby finally lets her secret out and admits what she did, will Vito still love Gabby or will he walk away forever? The secret that Gabby held wasn’t bad and there was a good reason. Vito did have a right to be angry but there are so many twists and turns going on. It could have been a stronger storyline but the story didn’t have a strong flow like the authors other stories. The ending was sweet and I was happy to see this. I would have liked to have read where the MC ended up after everything they went thru-maybe see a follow-up a year or so down the road but that is my preference. Overall this would be a 3.5 to 4 star rating book. My rating: 4.0 stars **** **I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review***
I liked the story, so it’s a 3+ book for me. This is about Gabby/Gabrielle and Vito who met a year ago and fell in love without either of them knowing the “real” other person. Gabby flees from Vito the night before they were to wed since she is only pretending to be his fantasy woman. Vito is living the billionaire lifestyle – but only temporarily. He has a near death experience – hence why this is part of the Things to Do Before You Die series and decides to chase after the “one that got away”. However, he doesn’t find Gabrielle, his fantasy woman – he finds Gabby who intrigues him even more. However, betrayal causes a deep rift in their relationship and an unlikely source helps them find their way back to each other. Turns out – they are a better pair now than before. It was a cute and uncomplicated story with enough steam, angst and drama to keep you turning the pages. I actually want to read the other stories in the series even more!! Received copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
3 stars His Fantasy Bride was an OK read. While the storyline was well written and it held my interest from start to end, I found myself struggling to connect with Gabby. I didn't understand/agree with some of her decisions, I wished she spent a little less time inside her own head and more time being open with Vito. Overall His Fantasy Bride was a sweet, hot and fun read and a good addition to the Things to Do Before You Die series.
I enjoyed Vito and Gabby's story. I enjoyed their confusion on their true selves and what they wanted out of their lives. Their journey to self discovery and love was sweet and spicy. Vito was this man who never lost control and kept his temper in check. Gabby rid him of that control and it was so hot and good. They had explosive chemistry. Despite not liking what she did to him, she made him face himself with his expectations and really figure out what he wanted. Luca and Theresa provided comic relief as well as great moral support for Gabby. I only wish there was a little more updates on the other characters from the other two books in the series to tie them all together. But that is a little selfish of me. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review. Wow this series keeps getting better. I love Gabby and Vito. This book is well written and steamy. Once I started reading I couldn't stop until I found out what happened. I recommend not only this book but the rest of the series as well.
It is a quick and fun read. I loved Gabby and Vito, and the story is quite interesting. It's the kind of book which sucks you in and hard to put down once you started it. Good thing is there was no reason for me to put it down. ;) Gabby ran away just before she was supposed to marry Vito. She didn't give him much of an explanation. At first he didn't follow her but then after life changing events he couldn't stay away. He must know what caused her to leave him without a reason. After all they were in love and they were so happy together. Gabby can't believe that Vito is back in his life. She has no idea how to deal with him. It's so difficult to say no to him but she knows that she can never be his wife. There is too many things which make her life complicated and Vito will never forgive her if he ever found out the whole truth. The best she can do is give him a half truth and hope that he will move on with his life, forgetting all about her. But what she doesn't know is that he still loves her so getting rid of him will be a problem... Vito is there to convince her how much they fit together. How perfect they are for each other and how they should give themselves a second chance... I devoured this book. It is really good and I'd definitely recommend it to fellow readers. :)
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. His Fantasy Bride by Nina Croft is Book 1 of the Things to Do Before You Die Series. Honestly, I was left disappointed by this book; it had so much potential and yet it didn’t hit the mark for me. It’s a shame because I did enjoy the author’s writing style, however that just doesn’t make up for the fact that I wasn’t engaged by the characters (at least not with Gabby...wasn’t feeling her at all) or feeling any depth or connectivity between Gabby and Vito. I didn’t enjoy this pairing whatsoever. Yes, there was lots of heat in the book but it takes more than that to have us really feel the story and enjoy it. I felt it was more page filler than anything and I ended up skimming a lot of pages due to this fact. No amount of sex is going to make me forget the fact that the book lacks a story. FYI: Next time, more of a story (a believable one) with a smaller dose of the sex and you got the right stuff...please and thank you.
Gabby, an actress and dancer, needs money so she spies on Vito, an archeologist, for her best friends brother, Luca. Their families have been feuding for over sixty years. Vito falls in love, asks her to marry him, and the night before the wedding she takes off. After an accident almost kills him, Vito and his two friends decide to do a sort of bucket list. Six months later he finds her and wants to know why she ran off. Gabby is a totally different person than when he knew her. She can't continue seeing him without telling him the truth but will she lose him for good or will he forgive her? Pretty good story. Steamy sex. A hot Italian. A blonde with pink tips, tattoo, and belly button ring, who doesn't believe she is good enough. *RECEIVED A COPY FROM NETGALLEY*
I'm torn! I loved Vito in the second book, Her Fantasy Husband (book one, His Fantasy Girl is sitting patiently in my TBR...I will get to you Logan, I promise!) and was really anxious for his story. I still liked him a heck of a lot in his book (and LOL, the sleeping-drunk-with-a-chicken-scene, I'd forgotten about it! Too funny!), but I didn't love his book as much as I wanted to. Mostly, it's Gabby. Her slightly schizophrenic I'm not Gabrielle--call me Gabby routine was a bit much. I get where she's going with it--yes, she played the part of super-sophisticated "Gabrielle" months ago, and now she's trying to be the "real" her, but at the same time she's getting all dressed up in her roomie's black dress and putting on pearls? Why? Either own your real self, girl, or don't. The constant back and forth was confusing, both for Vito and the reader. I also really wished she'd confessed the truth much earlier, in order to make their moving on with their relationship feel more realistic. Yes, Vito was finally getting to see Gabby, but essentially all of her omissions and dodging around the truth meant she was still playing a role, and it was frustrating all around. I did feel for her because of her reasons for taking Luca's money, but she made it difficult to sustain that sympathy. Maybe if we'd actually gotten to see her mother and/or brother, whom she helped with the cash? That might have made a difference, but as it was they were more of a vague idea than real motivations. Still, I liked Vito a whole lot and the two of them had some nice chemistry going on. It's not my favorite of the series (right now that's Josh's--at least until Logan manages to convince me otherwise) but I'm definitely glad to have read it and that Vito was able to accomplish his "thing to do" in the end. Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
3.25 stars-- ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 11, 2016 I can’t marry you. You don’t love me. Two sentences, that’s all Gabrielle Harper left Vito D’Ascensio when she vanished the night before their wedding. If he wants his bride back, he’s going to have to hunt her down and prove his love. But when he searches for Gabrielle, he finds Gabby instead; it seems his perfect bride is nothing but a fantasy. After six months, Gabby presumes it’s over, an episode in her life she’s totally ashamed of. But now Vito is back. He’s the one man she can never have, but as desire explodes between them, she has a tough time remembering why they shouldn’t be together. Oh, right, her family hates him, and he’s done terrible things. Or has he? But it doesn’t matter. When he finds out the truth about who she really is…he’ll never want to see her again. •••••••••••••• REVIEW: 3.25 stars--HIS FANTASY BRIDE is the second installment in Nina Croft’s adult, contemporary THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE erotic, romance series focusing on three friends -Vito, Josh and Logan. Six weeks earlier, a cruise ship fire left the three friends struggling to survive; each made a commitment to go after the one that got away. This is billionaire businessman, and professor of archaeology Vito (Vittorio) D’Ascensio, and dancer Gabrielle Harper’s story line. HIS FANTASY BRIDE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Some of the events run parallel to the events books 2 and 3. Told from dual third person perspectives (Vito and Gabby) the story line focuses on a lie. Six months earlier Gabrielle disappeared the night before their wedding and Vito has been lost for close to six months-no explanation, no contact with Gabby, and a near death experience that left him scarred finds our hero searching for the woman who broke his heart. Finding Gabrielle, in London, was easy but he had hopes she would have returned to him, and Sicily, on her own. What ensues are Vito’s attempts to get to the truth, and Gabby’s need to keep her distance from the man that she loves by running whenever confrontation is at hand. HIS FANTASY BRIDE follows Gabby as she is riddled with guilt; the lies she perpetuated and continues to tell in the hopes that the truth will never be revealed. Our heroine avoids the truth throughout most of the story making for some frustrating moments. We follow along while Gabby contemplates revealing the true nature of her lies; her internal dialogue is one of constant guilt and shame, yet she is no closer to an apology or the truth. The ‘before’ Gabrielle was all an act; the after ‘Gabby’ is a complete turn around, and both are difficult to accept. In the end we know very little about the couple’s original relationship- how they met, fell in love etc-some background history and more character development would have been nice. We are re-introduced to Vito’s two best friends-Logan McCabe and Josh Slater-both looking to reconnect with women from their pasts. When a cruise ship fire left the three friends struggling to survive, each made a commitment to go after the one that got away. As an aside, I would have liked to have learned more about the friendship, and the fire-the who, what, why and how. Gabby’s roommate Theresa is a woman who pushes Gabby to tell Vito the truth; and Theresa’s brother Luka- a man who vows vengeance using any mean possible including Gabrielle Harper. HIS FANTASY BRIDE is an interesting tale of betrayal and vengeance; lies and decei
3.5 stars! His Fantasy Bride by Nina Croft is book three in the Things to do Before You Die Series and revolves around Vito and Gabby. Vito and Gabby were engaged and were supposed to get married but Gabby bailed on him before the wedding. When Vito almost dies, he vows to find Gabby and set things straight, but Gabby is the same woman he was engage to. Turns out she was hiding who she was by pretending to be his perfect woman. In this story, Vito and Gabby spend time together and discover they still have feelings for each other. Of course, a lot of the relationship is based on lies, but if the hero can get passed it, the reader can too. Overall it was a good read with very interesting character traits.
This one is quick, fun, and devilishly sexy. It's the third in a series but they don't need to be read in order. After a near death experience three men have vowed to make right the one thing they regretted most. For Vito D’Ascensio that is going after Gabrielle Harper and finding out exactly why she had left him 6 months ago. Theirs was a whirlwind romance he thought was going to altar but her sudden disappearance left him angry and confused. When Vito finds Gabrielle she is nothing like the woman he remembers. This woman, Gabby, is bold, vibrant, and sexually charged. Gabrielle had been none of those things. Now he's determined to find out which is the real woman and what had lead her to seek him out in the first place. No more secrets. No more pretend. This book is very well written and these characters are wonderful. Definitely a book I recommend.
This is a very sexy romance that I just loved. It grabbed my attention from the beginning with Gabby's note to her fiance' that she couldn't marry him because he didn't know her. That taps into so much - who among us hasn't, from time to time, felt like our partner didn't really know us. The author takes this premise and runs with it, creating the ultimate in betrayals and falsehoods. If you enjoy romance, you will love this book.
3 - You reap what you sow... Stars. I am a huge fan of Nina Croft, I pretty much love all of her books and series, and this is the first time I can honestly say that I have finished a book by her and been left, less than satisfied. My two main issues with His Fantasy Bride were the length, in that at under 150 pages long there was very little chance for much development on anything. And the fact that the bulk of the story is based around dishonesty and the person telling the lie not having the courage to own up to the fact. She couldn’t have him. And she certainly didn’t deserve him. I think I could have dealt with the shorter length of the book if the lying had been dealt with early on, and they then spent the remainder rebuilding their trust and a relationship around that, but one thing that is guaranteed to wind me up is when someone makes lame excuses rather than owning up to their deceit. I already had a soft spot for Vito before going into this book, and he was still pretty likeable throughout the telling of the story, Nina has mad-skillz when it comes to writing heroes of the Mediterranean persuasion and Mr. D’Ascensio didn’t disappoint in that respect. We are now three weeks on from the ship sinking and the decision he made to reconnect with Gabrielle Harper, and discover why she ran out on the eve of their wedding, Vito is in London looking for answers. "When it seemed I might die, you were the one thing I thought about." Gabby was a pretty confident woman in most areas, and I think this is why I struggled with the lying so much, she owned her confidence and sass, yet when it came to standing up and owning the fact that everything about their initial getting together was totally false, she just kept dragging her heels until she is basically forced to come clean. He was her prince, even if she had been the wicked witch in disguise rather than the princess. It’s a shame the series ended on a bit of downer, the writing was the authors usual stellar standard, the tropes just didn’t do it for me on this occasion. You are however introduced to Luca and Theresa Scarlesi, in that they are part of Gabby’s extended family, I hope at some point Nina has the opportunity to tell their stories as this brother and sister left me more than a little intrigued. ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.
Gabby and Vito have a love story that is dramatic, complicated and all encompassing. I received an ARC of His Fantasy Bride by Nina Croft in exchange for an honest review. This is the most frustrating pair of love birds written about. Half truths, secrets and heartache are around every corner. Gabby loves Vito, Vito loves Gabby but each has baggage that makes it hard for that love to survive. Will they succeed? Getting past all the surprising twists made the story hard to follow at times but the love conquers all mantra was cheesy but sweet.