Marriage by Design

Marriage by Design

by Lynn Michaels

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There’s only so much taffeta and toile a girl can take.

Passionate, talented, and noticeably stunning, Mia Savard is the top designer at her father’s thriving bridal design company. But her life has hit a bit of a snag. Thirty, recently dumped, and suddenly single, Mia has grown weary of white lace and craves couture. But when Mia’ s most spectacular creation is leaked to the competition, the silk hits the fan. Someone inside Savard Creations is trading with the enemy. In the world of fashion, that means war.

Enter private investigator Joe Kerr, the exceedingly handsome ex-cop hired to nab the clever mole. Stalking dangerous territory–where jittery brides, hysterical mothers, and deadline-challenged designers clash in clouds of gossamer and gossip–Joe is torn between suspecting Mia and seducing her. Amid the treachery, hijinks, and flirtations galore, it seems that for Mia, romance just might be tailor-made.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345476012
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/25/2006
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.19(d)

About the Author

Lynn Michaels, a three-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award, is the author of more than a dozen novels and one novella. Her books have consistently appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list. She lives in Independence, Missouri, with her husband, their two sons, and three cats she calls the Little Queens. One of her most cherished possessions is a misspelled writing award. Visit the author’s website at or write to her at P.O. Box 520756, Independence, MO 64052.

Read an Excerpt

Marriage by Design

By Lynn Michaels

Random House

Lynn Michaels
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345476018

Chapter One


Mia Savard loved fashion. Anyone who looked in her closet could tell you that, once they picked their jaw up from the floor.

In design school Mia excelled at classes in textiles and pattern-making. Blindfolded she could sew a seam straight as a laser. She dreamed designs. Her illustrations won awards that hung on her father Lucien's office wall.

Mia simply hated brides.

It was nothing personal. Some of her best friends were brides, had been brides or were about to become brides. Which had absolutely nothing to do, Mia swore to her father, with her loathing for brides.

"I'm simply up to here with bridal gowns." Mia held her index finger against her eyebrows, in her father's office one snowy Thursday morning in November. "If I have to design another one, I'll scream."

"Pish." Lucien didn't even bother to look up from the stack of sketches on his desk. "You're having a snit because all your friends are getting married and that bum What's-His-Name dumped you."

"The bum's name is Terence and this is not a snit," Mia insisted. She couldn't argue about being dumped; it was true and the hurt still throbbed like a stubbed toe. "I'm bored as stiff as a bolt of tulle with bridal gowns. Move me to the trousseau line."

Lucien plucked a sketch off the stack, crumpled it and threw it overhis right shoulder. "No."

"Move me," Mia said. "Or I'll quit."

"Absolutely not," her father replied.

"All right. If that's the way you want it."

Lucien's Paul Newman-blue eyes lifted and narrowed at her over the silver half-lenses perched on his fine patrician nose. Mia had her mother's snipped-off pixie nose. She hated it. These days she hated almost everything. Especially Terence the Bum, the GQ hunk formerly known as Terence the Love of Her Life.

"I battled your brother, Mia, and I battled your sister." While Mia was still in design school, but she'd heard about the Sibling Wars from nonfamily Savard employees. "Do not threaten me. You will not win."

"You're stifling my creativity."

"I'm trying to run a business."

"You're trying to run my life."

"You're a Savard. This business is your life."

"That's what I just said. You're running my life."

"Mi-ah." Lucien threw an "h" on the end of her name to let her know that he was losing patience. "Go find yourself a new boyfriend. You'll start dreaming about weddings again and everything will be fine."

"Not this time," she retorted. "I'm finished with men. I don't want to be a bride--not ever--and I do not want to design brides' dresses anymore. I need a change. I'm bored. Stale--"

"You're depressed," Lucien cut her off. "You're an artist. You're prone to depression. Go shopping. It'll cheer you up."

"Move me," Mia said between her teeth, "to the trousseau line."

"We design one-of-a-kind bridal gowns, Mia. It's what we do, how I built Savard Creations. I'd need my head examined if I moved one of my best designers from our custom line into ready-to-wear."

"Move me or I'll quit."

Lucien bent his head over the sketches. "No."

Mia drew a deep breath. "Then I quit."

Her father crumpled another sketch and tossed it without so much as a glance at her. "Are you coming to dinner tonight?"

"No." Mia wheeled away from his pool table-size desk, thought about slamming the door on her way out of the office but didn't.

She was too old to slam doors. Thirty and unmarried, unattached and unappreciated--Waa-waa, she thought, have a little cheese with your whine, Mia--plus she'd rather stick her right hand, her drawing hand, into a garbage disposal than give her father the satisfaction.

Mia stalked to the elevator, rode the car to the fourth floor and stomped down the hallway--her body so stiff with fury that her knees refused to bend--and turned into her office.

Her cousin Robin leaned his folded elbows against the edge of her drawing table, his Lucille Ball-red hair dull and dark against the gray sky framed by the wall full of windows behind him. His father, Rudy, Lucien's younger brother, was CFO of Savard Creations; Robin, his second in command. He glanced up at Mia from the sketch on her board.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Snooping." Robin cocked an eyebrow at Mia as she yanked the chair away from her desk and sat down. "What are you doing?"

"Typing my letter of resignation." Mia pulled out the keyboard tray, shook the wireless mouse to clear the Colin Farrell screen saver from the flat screen monitor of her PC and glanced at her cousin. "I'll drop it off on our way to lunch. Are we eating in or going out?"

"Neither." Robin pushed off her board. "I just remembered I made an appointment to have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails."

"Coward." Mia snorted and started typing. "Some friend you are."

"This isn't about friendship, mighty mite," Robin replied. "This is about business and blood, which happen to be the same thing if your name is Savard. Love you, cuz, but I want to keep my job."

"What makes you think Lucien will fire you if I quit?"

"He fired my dad, his own brother, last year. He fired the whole accounting department twice." Robin perched on the corner of her desk and eyed her soberly. "One of these days, Mia, he could mean it."

"He never means it. He's fired the design staff a dozen times."

"He's never fired you."

"He doesn't dare. I'm the baby. Mother would kill him."

"If you're still alive later, call me." Robin stood up and kissed the top of her head. "Give me ten minutes to get out of the building."

"Hurry, Chicken Little. The sky is falling."

"Cluck, cluck." Robin grinned and strolled out of her office.

Mia shut and locked the door. The front wall of her office was glass. So was the front wall of the design department across the hall. Anyone could see her--Jordan, for instance, her best friend in the design department, the biggest nosey-pocus in the entire Savard Building, who occupied the second cubicle on the left--but Mia didn't care who saw her, so long as no one could hear her.

She reached for the phone and placed a conference call to her sister, Jenna, in LA and her brother, Luke, in New York. Jenna, the overachieving middle child, ran the Savard's boutique on Rodeo Drive, Luke the Fifth Avenue showroom. They'd both fled as far away from Lucien as they could without jumping into an ocean.

"Well?" Jenna demanded, her voice hollow on the speakerphone. "Did he agree to move you to the trousseau line?"

"No. He said absolutely not, so I quit. I spoke the words. I said, 'I quit.' He asked me if I was coming to dinner tonight."

"It was worth a shot," Jenna said. "Tell us what he said."

"Exactly," Luke said. "Word for word."

Mia told them. Exactly, word for word. When she finished, Jenna said, "You should've slammed the door on your way out."

"I thought about it," Mia said. "But I'm not you."

Jenna was the Queen of Slamming, Banging and Breaking Things, a talent she'd inherited from their father. Jenna once threw a lunch tray at Lucien in the employee cafeteria. It missed his head but drenched him in chili mac and peach cobbler. The Chili Mac Skirmish was considered one of the turning point battles of the Sibling Wars.

"Have you written your resignation letter?" Luke asked.

"Yes." Mia read from the screen: "Dear Dad, I quit. Love, Mia."

"Short, sweet and to the point," Luke said. "Sign it and deliver it."

"I'm going to, on my way to lunch," Mia said, and hit Print.

She folded her resignation into a pale mauve envelope with Savard Creations, 4700 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111, scripted in dark burgundy ink in the upper left corner, licked the flap shut and headed for the elevator. Lucien's secretary Selma, whose desk sat in the reception area outside the closed double doors of his office on the seventh floor, eyed the envelope warily when Mia handed it to her.

"Is this," she asked, "what I think it is?"

"My resignation," Mia said.

"Oh, boy." Selma sighed. "Here we go again."

Mia went back to her office, hoping she could grab Jordan for lunch. Her friend's cubicle was empty, so Mia put on her boots and her coat, picked up her purse and left the Savard Building. Under the canopy over the revolving front doors, she flipped up the hood on her purple merino wool stadium coat.

The bleak sky was spitting snow, tiny, dry flakes the wind swirled into curlicues along the sidewalk. Mia dug her cell phone out of her purse, dialed Savard Creations, then Jordan's extension. She meant to leave a message on her voice mail, but Jordan answered.

"I did it," Mia told her. "I quit."

"You go!" Jordan cheered. "Where are you?"

"Standing on the sidewalk wondering if I should throw myself under a bus and be done with it."

"He's a tyrant. A genius, but a tyrant," said Jordan, whose whimsical, Laura Ashley-esque designs were frequently and roundly praised by Lucien. "Want me to come down and we'll go to lunch?"

Mia thought about it. If Robin the Wuss hadn't bailed on her she might've been able to choke down half a sandwich. Now she felt too nervous to eat, her stomach jumping with dread.

Excerpted from Marriage by Design by Lynn Michaels Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Marriage by Design 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I picked this book up as one of thse books to read between my other favorite authors and reallized that I could not put this down. I do not generally read contemporary romance I am more of a historical buff myself but after reading this book I can honestly say that I am hooked. I look forward to reading her other works.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very cute, funny book with a large cast of characters. I'm usually a tough sell when it comes to humor in romance but this one worked for me. No silliness or slapstick (which I normally dislike), just lots of snappy, witty dialogue. In fact, some of it went over my head at first causing me to stop in puzzlement, re-read a passage, and chuckle a bit at the clever writing.The plot takes place in Kansas City, MO, and gives the reader a glimpse into the world of high fashion bridal design. Mia Savard is a top designer in her father's bridal design company. But she is tired of designing bridal gowns and is trying to convince her father to move her to the trousseau department where she can design a variety of garments. Unfortunately, there is a traitor in their midst. Mia's newest bridal gown design for the govenor's daughter is stolen and appears in an ad for their competitor. Mia's father, Lucien, hires Joseph Kerr, a private investigator, to find out the identity of the traitor. Mia and Joe are immediately attracted to each other and love soon follows.I liked Mia who was rather sassy but very intelligent. Joe was harder to figure out but I think the problem was that there was not enough story from his POV. The underlying mystery of who stole the design was pretty good. One of the villains was obvious but his accomplice took a bit longer to figure out. My biggest complaint is that there were too many confusing characters to keep track of but I still found this a light, humorous, enjoyable read. (Grade: B)
Q-Squared More than 1 year ago
Good chick lit, quick read. I just couldn't put this one down. A fun, intriguing tale of a designer whose dress design is stolen and a detective who's determined to catch the thief. Add a few plot twists and a spark between the two, and before you know it, you'll be hooked until the thief is caught. I absolutely loved this book... until the last 50 pages. The book was very drawn out but the last 50 were terribly rushed. The one major turn off for me: the love scenes. Too tacky and detailed for me. Skip those parts and you have a decent book!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Thirty years old Mia Savard is considered the leading designer at her father¿s bridal design company Savard¿s Creations work she fully enjoys. However, her personal life has recently flushed down the toilet as the beautiful Mia was unceremoniously dumped. --- Mia puts her élan for life into her latest creation, which turns into an incredible wedding design. However, as she is about to quit the family firm, someone sells her conception to a rival. Mia and her dad know an insider had to have done the industrial espionage. Before more trade secrets are sold, the firm hires private investigator Joe Kerr to go undercover and find who sold them out. Joe figures Mia is the prime suspect, but as he makes subtle inquires engulfed by blobs of pompous pampered designers and stalking mothers of the brides, the former cop to his chagrin finds he is attracted to Mia she reciprocates not knowing he considers her as the likely rat. --- This amusing investigative romance stars two likable enemy combatants as he is positive she is the traitor and she is negative on the newcomer who knows nothing about weddings. The story line is filled with peppery exchanges between the pair as they argue, fuss and kiss. Although the defector is obvious to the reader early one and not to the lead couple (perhaps love is truly blind), Lynn Michaels provides a fun prenuptial romance. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Missouri, no one could accuse Lucien Savard, owner of Savard Creations, of nepotism as his most talented wedding gown designer is his daughter Mia. However, Mia who loves fashion informs her father she detests designing wedding gowns, , but Lucien thinks that is a natural reaction for a thirty years old single female dumped by her what¿s his name boyfriend. She asks him to move her to the trousseau line, but he says no he claims it is business while she proclaims it is control. As she finishes her resignation letter, a raging Lucien calls the family together to show them their main rival Heavenly Bridals¿ ¿latest creation¿ displayed in Today¿s Bride magazine is one Mia created for Governor Whitcomb¿s daughter. Someone sold out the firm. --- Private Investigator Joe Kerr is hired to uncover the identity of the traitor. While he struggles to survive landmines tossed by insane parents of brides and grooms and swims through water infested with maniacal designer sharks, he is attracted to Mia. She reciprocates his feelings. However, as they fall in love, he realizes she is the only one who had the motive, means, and opportunity. --- This entertaining contemporary investigative romance is a fine fast-paced tale starring a likable lead pair and an eccentric support cast starting with Lucien¿s whose reaction to the creative property theft sets the tone as he feels backstabbed, fires everyone, and destroys the furniture. The relationship between Joe and Mia is deftly developed from one of initial physical attraction to admiration and love though throughout the transition is the lingering doubt even as the hero deeply believes she is not the Quisling but worries that his heart persuaded his brain. Lynn Michaels RETURN ENGAGEMENT to the wedding world is a fun story. --- Harriet Klausner