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Caretti's Forced Bride (Mills & Boon Largeprint Romance) Hardcover – Large Print, August 1, 2008

3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
Book 48 of 53 in the Wedlocked! Series

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Hardcover, Large Print, August 1, 2008
$13.22 $14.66

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About the Author

Jennie Lucas's parents owned a bookstore and she grew up surrounded by books, dreaming about faraway lands. At twenty-two she met her future husband and after their marriage, she graduated from university with a degree in English. She started writing books a year later. Jennie won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest in 2005 and hasn't looked back since. Visit Jennie's website at: www.jennielucas.com

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Climbing out of his Rolls-Royce, Paolo Caretti pulled his black coat close to his body and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Sunrise was just a slash of scarlet above New York's gray skyline as his chauffeur held an umbrella to block the freezing rain.

"Paolo. Wait."

For a moment he thought he'd imagined the soft sound, that his insomnia had finally caused him to dream in daytime. Then a small figure stepped out from behind the tall metal sculpture that decorated the front of his twenty-story office building. Rain plastered the woman's hair and clothes to her body. Her face was pale with cold. She must have been standing outside of his building for hours, waiting for him.

"Don't turn me away," she said. "Please."

Her voice was soft, throaty, low. Just like he remembered. After all these years he still remembered everything about her, no matter how much money he made or how many mistresses he'd taken to wipe her from his memory.

His jaw tightened. "You shouldn't have come."

"I…I need your help." Princess Isabelle de Luceran took a deep breath, her light brown eyes shimmering beneath the streetlights. "Please. I have nowhere else to go."

Their gazes locked. For a moment he was taken back to spring days picnicking in Central Park, to summer nights making love in his Little Italy apartment. When, for four sweet months, she'd made his world bright and new and he'd asked her to be his wife…

Now, he looked at her coldly. "Make an appointment."

He started to step around her, but she blocked him. "I've tried. I've left ten messages with your secretary. Didn't she give them to you?"

Valentina had, but he'd ignored them. Isabelle de Luceran meant nothing to him. He'd stopped wanting her long ago.

Or so he'd told himself. But now her beauty was seeping through him like a poison. Her expressive hazel eyes, her full mouth, those lush curves hidden beneath the ladylike coat—he remembered everything. The taste of her skin. The feel of her lips kissing down his belly. Her soft hands stroking between his legs…

"You're alone?" He clenched hisjaw, struggling to get himself under control. "Where are your bodyguards?"

"I left them at the hotel," she whispered. "Help me. Please. For the sake of…who we once were."

To his horror, he saw tears blending with rain to fall in rivulets down her cheek. Isabelle? Crying? Her hands trembled. Whatever she wanted, she must want it badly, he thought.

Good. Having her on her knees begging for a favor was a very pleasant image. It wouldn't make up for what she'd done, but it might be a start.

Abruptly, he moved closer, tracing a finger down her wet cheek. "You want a favor?" Her skin felt cold, as if she were indeed the ice princess the world believed her to be. "You know I'll make you pay for it."

"Yes." Her voice was so quiet he could barely hear her over the sound of rain. "I know."

"Follow me." Taking the umbrella from his chauffeur, he turned on his heel and strode up the wide concrete steps. As he entered through his building's revolving door, he nodded a greeting to the security guards in the foyer. He could hear the click-click-click of Isabelle's high-heeled boots across the marble floor behind him.

"Good morning, Salvatore," Paolo said to the first security guard.

"Good morning." The elderly man cleared his throat. "It's a cold one today, isn't it, Signor Caretti? Makes me wish I was in the old country, where it's warmer." His eyes trailed to Isabelle. "Or San Piedro, maybe."

So even Salvatore had recognized her. Paolo uneasily wondered what his executive secretary would do. Valentina Novak, though highly competent, had one weakness: celebrity tabloids. And Isabelle, the princess of a tiny Mediterranean kingdom, was one of the most famous women in the world.

As Paolo left the guard station, he heard Salvatore whistle through his teeth. He couldn't blame the man. Isabelle had been a lovely, fresh-faced girl at eighteen; she was more beautiful now. As if even time itself were in love with her.

Angrily shaking the thought away, Paolo strode to his private elevator and pressed the button for the penthouse level. As soon as the elevator's doors closed, he turned to her.

"All right. Let's have it."

Isabelle's voice was low. Desperate. "Alexander's been kidnapped."

"Your nephew?" He gave her an incredulous stare. "Kidnapped?"

"You're the only one who can save him!"

His eyebrows rose, still disbelieving. "The heir to the throne of San Piedro? Needs my help?"

"He's not just the heir now. He's the King." She shook her head, wiping her eyes. "My brother and sister-in-law died two weeks ago. You must have heard."

"Yes." He'd unwillingly heard the details from Valentina, who'd told him the couple had died in a boating accident in Majorca, leaving their nine-year-old son behind. And that wasn't the only gossip she'd shared…

Grinding his teeth, he pushed the troubling thought away. "I'm sorry."

"My mother is officially regent until he comes of age, but she's getting older, and I'm trying to help." She took a deep breath. "I was at the London economic summit yesterday when I got a frantic call from Alexander's nanny. Alexander was missing. Then I received a letter demanding I meet the kidnapper at midnight tonight. Alone."

"Don't tell me you're actually considering following his instructions?"

"If you don't help me, I don't know what else to do."

"Your nephew has a national army, bodyguards, police. Get them involved at once."

She shook her head. "The letter said if I contact anyone in an official capacity I'll never see Alexander again!"

He gave a harsh laugh. "Of course the kidnapper would say that. Don't be a fool. You don't need my help. Go to your police. Let them handle it." As the ding sounded and the doors opened on the penthouse level, he turned away from her. "Go home, Isabelle."

"Wait." She put her hand on his wrist. "There's more. Something I haven't told you."

He stared down at her hand. He could feel the electricity through his cashmere coat, his tailored jacket, his finely cut shirt. He had the sudden desire to close the door behind him, to push her up against the wall of the elevator, to pull up her skirt and taste her. He yearned to lick the rain off her skin, to pull off her sodden clothes and warm her with the length of his body…

What the hell was wrong with him? He felt nothing for Isabelle de Luceran but scorn—both for her shallow nature and for the naïve boy he'd been when he'd loved her.

So how was it possible that five minutes with her made his body combust into flame? Even through his clothes, her touch burned his skin.

He jerked his arm away.

"I'll give you one minute," he ground out. "Don't waste it."

He strode out onto his private floor, crowded with employees who managed his global holdings. Valentina stood up from her desk. As always, she was the picture of well-groomed efficiency: her stylish red suit accentuated her curvy figure, and her bright auburn hair was pulled back in a neat chignon. Her only jewelry was the gold Tiffany watch he'd given her last Christmas.

"Good morning, Mr. Caretti." She spoke rapidly, chewing on her full lower lip with white, even teeth. "Here are the numbers you wanted from the Rome office. Palladium is up two percent on the Nymex, and I've taken several calls this morning from reporters about the rumor of a buyout offer. Then, of course, all those calls from a woman claiming to be…"

Blue eyes widening, she sucked in her breath, staring at Isabelle.

"You told them Caretti Motors is not for sale," Paolo said. "Correct?"

The thirty-year-old redhead looked as if she might swoon. "Yes. No. That is—"

"Hold my calls," he bit out. Grabbing Isabelle's wrist, he dragged her into his office and closed the door behind them. Tossing his coat on the plush black leather sofa, he turned on a small lamp to illuminate the dark, spacious room.

"Thank you," Isabelle said softly, rubbing her wrist.

"I appreciate that you—" "Say what you have to say, and get out," he interrupted.

Her caramel-colored eyes narrowed. She took a deep breath. "I need your help."

"So you said," he replied coldly. "But you didn't explain why you need my help instead of going to the police or the bodyguards who protect San Piedro's king. Or, better yet," he added scornfully, "your fiancé."

She looked at him in surprise. "You know about Magnus?"

Paolo folded his arms, trying to calm the tension he felt in every muscle. "You're famous, Isabelle. I hear about your life whether I want to or not."

But it was more than that.


And Magnus.


He was still reeling. Ever since Valentina had started sighing over their "glamorous" affair, he'd wanted to hit something—preferably Magnus's meek, handsome face.

"I'm sorry," she said in a small voice. "I don't try to end up in the tabloids. They chase me. It's how they sell papers."

His lip curled. "It must be hard," he agreed sardonically. He could hardly believe she was trying to pretend she didn't love every minute of her fame. Her whole shallow existence had been built on the temple of her vanity and insatiable appetite for adoration. Even he himself had once been stupid enough to—

Stopping the thought cold, he clenched his jaw. "So why don't you ask your fiancé for help?"

"He's not my fiancé. Not yet."

"But he soon will be."

For the first time she looked away. "He proposed to me a few days ago. I haven't given him my answer yet, but I will. Once Alexander is safe, we will announce our engagement."

It was exactly what he'd expected, and yet involuntarily, he stepped toward her. Isabelle—Magnus's bride? The thought ricocheted through his body like a bullet.

"And as for why I can't ask him for help," she said, "he would insist on calling in the police and working through proper channels." She shook her head fiercely. "I can't be that patient. Not when some criminal has Alexander."

The irony of it rose like bile in his throat, nearly choking him. "So that's why you've come to me?"

"I've read about you as well." Her eyes met ... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product Details

  • Series: Mills & Boon Largeprint Romance
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0263200698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0263200690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,154,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

USA Today-bestselling romance novelist Jennie Lucas lives with her family in the Western U.S. For latest news, excerpts and booksigning events, please visit her website at www.jennielucas.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Those stories (see my title review) were pretty fantastical also, but that is what we are often looking for: a little escapism from our mundane lives, just to imagine a romantic, dangerous storyline with heroes and heroines larger than life. I mean, I hardly want to read about a woman who has a mundane life from day-to-day, do I?

So, Jennie Lucas' style of writing is just what I'm looking for, and I appreciate her stories.

The 2 characters in this story met when Princess Isabelle's limo broke down, and Paoulo was the expert mechanic dispatched to assist. She was in NYC to go to college, if I remember correctly. They had a whirlwind courtship, but her mother persuaded her to break up with Paolo, in a very cruel way. When she went back to make amends and let him know about their baby-to-be, events took place to drive them away for 10 years, until new events took place to bring them together.

The opening storyline is quite the cloak & dagger grab, which is one major reason why it reminded me of early Ingrid Bergman movies.

I found it a rewarding read, and I came online specifically to look up more books by Jennie Lucas. My other favorite authors, incidentally, are Lynne Graham, Michelle Reid, and Sarah Morgan.

I say, if you like stories with some danger, a little bit of intrigue and strong characters, give this book a try. I will definitely be reading more books by this author.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story of Paolo and Isabelle was very typical of the stories cranked out by harlequin of the damsel in distress and the mega alpha hero. In short Isabelle and Paolo have prior history as the book opens up, you find out from the start that their youthful relationship goes south of the border and 10 yrs on these two are still dramatically affected by the bitter ending of their past.

Isabelle comes to Paolo needing his help to get her nephew whose been kidnapped back, knowing that he (Paolo) is the only man ruthless enough for the job, and did I mention that Isabelle is a princess of a minor Mediterranean principality and her nephew is the new king. I had mixed feelings about the flow of this story it didn't flow as smoothly as I would have liked to me there were gaps in the story the author didn't give enough background for me as to how Isabelle and Paolo initially met, which I thought was important being that she (the author) put a lot of emphasizes on Paolo's lower social standing in the past before he became mega rich in comparison to Isabelle's royal status.

I also wasn't feeling the fact that at times she made Paolo sound like he was a self made billionaire, professional motorcycle racing playboy, but at other times she made him sound as if he had mafia connections, referring to him at one time as having his own "personal army". Also, I have to say that although the author portrayed Paolo as being ruthless with no morals I however found him to be honest, if alittle brutual with his wants and intentions toward Isabelle, she on the other hand seemed unbelievably naïve or stupid I'm not quite sure which really, because even though she went to Paolo knowing how he was she still managed to be surprised by his attitude and actions towards her.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yet again, Jennie Lucas delivers a wonderful story full of passion, anger, secrets, pride.....just a very enjoyable and moving love story set in the Mediterranean and surrounded by castles, villas, lush country side and the sea.

Princess Isabelle de Luceran is bound by duty and honor to her Country and her family. Even though her heart was ripped apart years ago when she left the only man she'd ever loved. Isabelle had refused his proposal and in the end let her sister talk her into giving up the baby she had conceived with Paolo, making him heir to the throne. It's not bad enough that her sister and her husband recently died in an acccident......now their 9 year old son has been kidnapped. She can only trust one man to do the job and that's her past and only lover Paola Caretti. So she returns to the US and begs him to come home with her to save her nephew, which of course he does but with a price.

Paulo Caretti is ruthless, handsome, and rich and wants Isabelle. Years ago he loved her and proposed marriage and in the end, she refused and returned to her country. Now Paolo can seek revenge and his plan is for Isabelle to become his mistress, get her pregnant and marry her at all costs. Paolo accepts his passion for her but vows never to be caught up in love again. Love hurts and Paolo knows this first hand......from his ruthless father, from the mother who abandoned him and from the only woman he ever love who walked out on him!

What neither of them counts on is their powerful attraction, lust and the passion which goes up in flames when they are together. What they also don't count on is that they can't leave each other alone so the affair continues and they are splashed all over media which doesn't sit well with Isabelle's family and country.
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