An American heiress and a crown prince thought their secret marriage was annulled years ago—but now they must come face to face with their past. The third volume in the captivating Royal Wedding series from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hauck!
Corina Del Rey is happy with her life in Melbourne, Florida. She spends her days engrossed in her career as a journalist and has her sights set on climbing the corporate ladder, partly to distract herself from her dissolving family.
Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom came to America to escape responsibility, but what he found complicates his life more than ever. He has tried to move on from his tragic experiences in Afghanistan. Now a star rugby player, he has no intention of looking over his shoulder at what could've been.
But when an unexpected notice arrives in the mail requiring his and his wife's appearance before the courts to dissolve their marriage, Prince Stephen is shocked. He thought the secret marriage had been annulled long ago, but his memories of Corina Del Rey remain close. Does he still love her? Can he even find her? Above all, can he tell her the truth about that fateful night in Afghanistan seven years ago? If he does, he might really lose her forever.
A modern fairy tale with a twist, Rachel Hauck’s How to Catch a Prince is a stunning romance read.
- Enchanting contemporary romance that can be read on its own
- Part of the Royal Wedding series!
- Book One: Once Upon a Prince
- Book Two: Princess Ever After
- Book Three: How to Catch a Prince
- Book Four: A Royal Christmas Wedding
- Book length: 86,000 words
Praise for How to Catch a Prince:
“Hauck writes a feel-good novel that explores the trauma and love of the human heart . . . an example of patience and sacrifice that readers will adore.”—RT Book Reviews
“Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Hauck's latest inspirational romance offers an uplifting and emotionally rewarding tale that will delight her growing fan base.”—Library Journal starred review
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About the Author
Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at RachelHauck.com; Facebook: RachelHauck; Twitter: @RachelHauck; Instagram: @rachelhauck.
Read an Excerpt
How to Catch a Prince
Royal Wedding Series
By Rachel Hayes Hauck
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 Rachel Hayes Hauck
All rights reserved.
With each passing day, she remembered she had a secret.
She'd lived in the fog of death until six months ago, when she crawled out, reaching for the first glimpse of life and light she'd encountered in five years. It came in the form of a simple telephone call. A refreshing-breeze offer.
But clearing the fog meant the memories surfaced. Ones she'd long since regarded as lost. Now they rattled around the empty corridors of her heart.
And recently, in the faintest ting or ping, like when elevator doors opened just outside her office, Corina remembered how she loved the glorious, rolling chimes of cathedral bells pealing through a crisp Cathedral City dawn.
And she ached. Deep in her soul. With a longing she couldn't reach nor remove.
With an exhale, she slumped in her chair and closed the news video she'd been watching. Two of the Beaumont Post's staff writers entered the bull pen with a nod toward her, a late lunch of McDonald's swinging from their hands.
Corina's gaze followed them as they crossed the wide, boxy room, cutting through the muted afternoon sunlight that spilled through the dirty, rain-splattered windows.
She should go to lunch herself. It was nearly two. But she was waiting for her boss, Gigi Beaumont, to return from lunch. Corina had a proposition for the founder of the online mega newspaper, the Beaumont Post. A bold move, even for her, but she felt confident in her idea.
In the meantime, she had work to do. Corina sorted through her e-mail inbox, organizing stories that came in from the Post staff writers and stringers from around the world. Gigi's journalism-tabloid-media fingers had a very long reach.
Opening a story that had just come in though it was due last week, Corina started reading but lost her concentration after the first sentence.
What bothered her? June. Of course. It was the third of June. Being out from under the fog, dates and days had meaning again.
Okay. Fine. It was June third. Just recognize the day had once been significant and move on. But dealing with everything she'd buried more than five years ago proved challenging.
"Corina, hey ..." Melissa O'Brien perched on the edge of Corina's desk, angling toward the computer screen. "What has you so engrossed? A story by Chip Allen?" She curled her lip.
"Yeah, um ... it's good." Corina cleared her throat, sat up straight, and gathered herself into business mode—despite her rambling thoughts and rumbling stomach. "He's got a great piece on Hollywood and violence."
"Did you talk to Gigi yet?"
"Not yet." Corina peered down the long, wide center aisle of the bull pen, which ended at Gigi's office. Through the glass panel beside the closed door, she saw her boss pacing, cell phone to her ear. "I thought she was still at lunch."
"Nope, she's back in her office. With that appendage she calls a cell phone. It's going to kill her brain cells."
Corina laughed low. "They'd never have the nerve to die on her."
Gigi Beaumont, who crawled her way out from the poverty of the Blue Ridge Mountains to become a pioneer in the online journalism world, was a force to be reckoned with. No death, sickness, mayhem, corporate lawyers, hostile takeovers, sloppy reporters, lazy editors—nor husbands one through five—could conquer her.
"Are you saying you don't have the nerve?" Melissa let her purse slide from her shoulder to Corina's desk. "We need an editorial director. You've been doing the job since Carly left four months ago. And you're the new girl yet. Come on, be brave."
Brave? Courage wasn't the issue. It was timing. All about the timing. "Gigi's a mentor and friend, and I'm here because of her. But if she wants me for the job, why hasn't she asked?"
"It's Gigi." Melissa shrugged with a pffftt. "It's a miracle she offered you a job at all. Usually folks have to come begging."
"True." Corina stood, squaring her shoulders and shoving her chair under the desk.
"She's on her feet, ladies and gentlemen." Melissa hissed a faux crowd noise. "I think she's going in."
But Corina didn't move. When Gigi, a long-time family friend of the Del Reys and Corina's first employer after college, called after Thanksgiving last year with a, "Come on down to Florida and work for me," Corina began to wake up from the stupor of grief.
At twenty-nine, she'd spent the last five years in grave clothes. Alive but not living.
"Doesn't look like you're going."
Corina moved toward Gigi's office with beauty-pageant stride. "You see me walking, don't you?" Her heels thumped against the tight carpet weave.
"Yeah, I do." The melody of Melissa's laugh fueled Corina's courage.
After all, she was a Del Rey, a daughter of great fortune, a steel magnolia, a former Miss Georgia, a summa cum laude college graduate, a writer ... and twin sister.
She pressed her hand to her heart, slowing her steps and breathing deeply, remembering her brother. Carlos's death in Afghanistan had cost more than she'd have ever imagined.
Arriving at Gigi's door, Corina gathered her scattering thoughts—forget the past—and formulated her pitch. Gigi, I've been doing the job of editorial director ... formally give me the position ... value to the team.
Peering through the glass, Corina knocked, smiling when Gigi waved her in. The media mogul was still on her phone, pacing, speaking with voluminous animation.
"Fantastic, darling. Cannot wait. You're going to love it here. Splendid family environment. Yes, we're right on the Atlantic. And the Indian River. On the famous U.S. 1." Gigi motioned for Corina to have a seat on the chocolate-colored suede sofa. "Sure he can learn to surf ... Well, of course. We have our very own East Coast surfer's hall of fame to boot ... Exactly. Listen, I've someone in my office. See you next week." Gigi ended the call, cradling her phone in her lap, and flashed her snow-white smile while cracking her ever-present Wrigley's Spearmint between her teeth. "Gorgeous Corina Del Rey, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Gigi's gleaming blond hair curled and floated about her face.
"I wanted to talk to you about—"
"I've been thinking." Gigi jumped to her feet, tucking her phone into her skirt pocket, circling the room, snapping her fingers. The riverscape behind her, beyond the windows and through the trees, was lit with the sun, threading diamonds of light into the water's calm surface. "We need a spectacular celebrity piece. You know, something to juice up our front pages." The Post started as a series of blogs Gigi chained together, written by Washington insiders, Hollywood experts, gossip columnists, and the occasional royal watcher. She had boots on the ground in New York, L.A., Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Toronto, London, Madrid, Cathedral City ... to the ends of the earth.
"We have the Hollywood violence piece Chip Allen wrote."
"Snore bore, Corina. No one cares about the violence in movies, and if they do, they already agree with Allen. I told him I'm not sure we're going to run that piece." For an "international" newspaper, Gigi was hands-on, involved. She considered the world her backyard and believed sharing news was as simple as talking to her neighbors over the backyard fence. Even if that neighbor was thousands of miles away. "We need something wow." Gigi swirled her hands through the air with animation.
"Why do we need something wow?"
Gigi stopped treading between the windows and the sitting area, her gaze steady on Corina. "You know why I hired you?"
"Because I'm a good writer. Professional, organized. I'm a hard worker." But in truth? She had no idea why Gigi hired her. Because the last five years of Corina's resume contained a big fat blank. What had she done? Become a professional griever, a professional liaison between her parents. Traveling with Daddy when he asked. Otherwise, living at home, in the shadows of what the family used to be.
But yes, she was a good writer and hard worker. Which Gigi knew.
Being an heiress meant nothing to Corina's wealthy but hardworking father who made sure she and Carlos never counted on the family name and fortune to make their way in life. Her high school friends curled their lips in disgust when Corina had to tend to household chores and work a summer job to earn money for her own car. "But your dad's a millionaire a hundred times over."
Tell that to Donald Del Rey.
"Good at what you do?" Gigi's furrowed expression as she sat back down on the sofa inspired doubt in Corina. "Well, of course you are. And by the way, splendid of you to step up after Carly left. The bull pen loves you. Who knew you were so good with details?"
"But of course."
"That's why I think you should just give me—"
"Corina, I hired you to spice things up."
"Girl, you used to pal around with Paris Hilton, and I bet if I snagged your iPhone, you'd have a Kardashian or two in your contacts."
"Hello, do you not remember my life for the past five years?"
"Yes, I realize ... all the grief." Gigi pressed her hand on Corina's knee. "I am so sorry about Carlos. He was an amazing young man. Too handsome for his own good and twice as kind." The fiftysomething drew air between her teeth. "He reminds me of my third ... no fourth ... yes, fourth husband. Desi." She closed her eyes and drifted away. "Should've never divorced him."
"We can put that on the front page," Corina said.
Gigi snapped from her daydream. "Very funny, you clever girl. No, what we need is an exclusive."
"What sort of exclusive?"
"Something no one else is reporting. Contact your celebrity friends, get some sort of inside scoop. Be inventive. Maybe you could sit down with Bill Clinton's daughter. Or one of the Bush twins."
"Gigi," Corina said, standing. "If you want to run a salacious story on a former president's daughter, you're going to have to find someone else to do it. I came in here to ask you for the editorial director job. When you want to talk serious, let me know." She started for the door. Celebrity chums, presidents' daughters, high school friends? She'd spoken to practically none of them since Carlos's funeral.
But she didn't blame them. Everything changed the day he died. Then with such finality the afternoon she helped her daddy shovel the first mounds of dirt over her brother's coffin, Mama weeping and collapsing into the reverend's arms. And the loving, close-knit Del Rey family fell apart. She'd lost her brother, a constant in every tender childhood memory. Then she "lost" her parents, the Del Rey traditions, the closeness, and laughter.
"Editorial director?" She laughed. "Darling, back to my original question. Why I hired you. To go after the rich and famous, the salacious celeb gossip. To travel the world, to spice up our readers' drab little lives with a look at how the one percent lives. Come on, surely you've some lead on a hot story."
"No, and if I did, I'd not betray my friends by giving the story to you."
"Tsk, tsk." Gigi shook her head. "Did you not learn anything from me when you worked with me before?"
"Yes, which is why I'm asking for the director job." She'd lost so much time when she'd holed up at home, trying to comfort herself, her parents over Carlos's death, all the while waiting for her life to begin again. Now that she was free, she wanted to get things moving.
Though Daddy worried a bit about her being out on her own. Something he'd never done in the past. Corina suspected it had to do with losing his son.
"An heiress without any security? Let me hire someone for you, Corina."
But she refused, just wanting to be. To find her bearings and destiny. She still felt poor and weak, broken—the furthest thing from an heiress.
In the end, though, she yielded to Daddy's request to buy an apartment in a secure building, finding a lovely spot on the river with hefty security.
"I filled the position today." Gigi sat back, arm propped on the back of the sofa. "Just got off the phone with Mark Johnson."
"Mark Johnson?" Corina paused her exit and stepped back into the room. "The Mark Johnson who worked with me a fter college? The man the rest of us pulled out of the fire daily because he partied every night and missed most of his assignments? That Mark Johnson?"
"Yes, that Mark Johnson." Gigi's laugh mocked Corina's concern. "He might not have been a stellar employee when he was younger—"
"He's so much older now? It's been what, seven years?"
"Certainly he's older and more accomplished, married with a child. He's built an impressive résumé."
Corina heard the subtle innuendo. You did not. No, because she was pasting her life together and holding on to her crumbling family.
"He's worked in London, New York, L.A., and is currently the managing editor for Martin Looper Media." Gigi raised her brows. "Our competition."
"Gigi, you called me. You asked me to come work for you. So let me. I can do the job. I've been on the weekly calls with New York and London. I've Skyped, Facetimed, and Google Plused with our bloggers, stringers, and photographers. I know the bull pen."
"Do you want to know the real reason I called?"
It had been rather out of the blue. Corina thought perhaps God was answering her pleas to "do something." How could she love and support her parents yet move on with her life? She felt like she was drowning, dying her own special death in the shadow of her brother's. And Carlos would've never wanted it.
"Because your mama said you were driving her crazy."
"Excuse me? I was driving her crazy?"
"Said you never left the house."
"Me?" Mama! Frustrating, incorrigible Mama. Corina scrunched her hands into tight fists, digging into her palms with her fingernails. "She was the one who never left the house."
"Well, you're here. I thought it was a good idea when she proposed it. You're moving on. I'm glad for it. But editorial director? Shug, please." Gigi stood and crossed over to her desk, her attention to the conversation waning. "I want you to find you the big story." She tossed Corina a saucy smile. "The biggest story of your life."
"Yeah?" Corina held open the office door. "And what would that be?"
Back at her desk, Corina sat with a sigh, shaking her head at Melissa, who frowned and stuck her tongue out at Gigi's door.
Story of her life? Corina had a story all right. Of her own life. An amazing story, one she'd never told anyone. It was her secret.
On days when the fog still clouded her heart and thoughts, she imagined it might have all been a dream. Then she'd hear a bell or the ping of the elevator doors and know it was real.
But it was a story she could never tell. Ever. Because it was an incredible secret. Though why she showed him any loyalty was beyond her.
With a sigh, Corina sat forward, facing Chip Allen's dry Hollywood piece.
Why did she keep their secret? One small thought ricocheted in reply. Because in some small way, maybe she still loved him.CHAPTER 2
Brighton Kingdom–Cathedral City
THE LIBERTY PRESS 4 June Prince Stephen Named the World's Most Eligible Bachelor
THE INFORMANT 5 June King's Office Claims Prince Stephen Not Looking for Love, Happy with Rugby Life
6 June Prince Stephen, Patron of Youth Rugby, to Open Summer Tournament
* * *
Stephen snapped off the telly, grumbling and muttering to himself about the antics on Madeline & Hyacinth Live! Who did they think they were, trying to find him a bride?
To think, he used to consider them friends. But today they went too far, jumping in on the media speculation about his love life. What spurred this? He'd not been out with a woman in ages. And his blasted ankle injury had remanded him from the rugby field and the public eye for the past three months.
Nevertheless, at this very moment, men and women around Brighton Kingdom were watching their show and tweeting to the hashtag #howtocatchaprince. Thank you, Maddie and Hy.
He should tweet his own answer. If he had a Twitter account. Leave him alone #howtocatchaprince.
Excerpted from How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hayes Hauck. Copyright © 2015 Rachel Hayes Hauck. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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