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Prince of Scandal Mass Market Paperback – Large Print, July 19, 2011


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Mass Market Paperback, Large Print, July 19, 2011
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Lgr edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037323774X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373237746
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,307,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Annie West has devoted her life to an intensive study of tall, dark, charismatic heroes who cause the best kind of trouble in the lives of their heroines. As a sideline she’s also researched dreamy locations for romance, from vibrant cities to desert encampments and fairytale castles. Annie lives with her family at beautiful Lake Macquarie. She loves to hear from readers and you can contact her at www.annie-west.com or at PO Box 1041, Warners Bay, NSW2282, Australia.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Raul stared unseeingly out of the chopper as it followed the coast south from Sydney. He shouldn't be here when the situation at home was so delicately poised. But he had no choice.

What an unholy mess!

His hands bunched into fists and he shifted his long legs restlessly.

The fate of his nation and the well–being of his subjects were at risk. His coronation, his right to inherit the kingdom he'd been born to and devoted his life to, hung in the balance. Even now he could scarcely believe it.

Desperately the lawyers had sought one legal avenue after another but the laws of inheritance couldn't be overturned, not till he became king. And to become king…

The alternative was to walk away and leave his country prey to the rivalries that had grown dangerous under the last king, Raul's father. Civil war had almost ripped the country apart two generations ago. Raul had to keep his people safe from that, no matter what the personal cost.

His people, his need to work for them, had been what kept him going through the bleak wasteland of disillusionment when his world had turned sour years before. When paparazzi had muckraked and insinuated and his dreams had shattered around him, the people of Maritz had stood by him.

He would stand by them now when they most needed him.

Besides, the crown was his. Not only by birthright. By dint of every long day, every hour he'd devoted to mastering the myriad royal responsibilities.

He would not renounce his heritage. His destiny.

Tension stiffened every sinew and anger simmered in his blood. Despite a lifetime's dedication to the nation, despite his experience, training and formidable capacity, it had all come down to the decision of a stranger.

It scored his pride that his future, his country's future, depended on this visit.

Raul opened the investigator's report, skimming familiar details.

Luisa Katarin Alexandra Hardwicke. Twenty–four. Single. Self–employed.

He assured himself this would be straightforward. She'd be thrilled and eager. Yet he wished the file contained a photo of this woman who would play such a pivotal role in his life.

He closed the report with a snap.

It didn't matter what she looked like. He wasn't weak like his father. Raul had learned the hard way that beauty could lie. Emotions played a man for a fool. Raul ruled his life, like his kingdom, with his head.

Luisa Hardwicke was the key to safeguarding his kingdom. She could be ugly as sin and it would make no difference.

Damn! The cow shifted, almost knocking Luisa over. Wearily she struggled to regain her footing in the bog at the edge of the creek.

It had been a long, troubling morning with early milking, generator problems and an unexpected call from the bank manager. He'd mentioned a property inspection that sounded ominously like a first step to foreclosure.

She shuddered. They'd fought so long to keep the small farming co–operative going through drought, illness and flood. Surely the bank couldn't shut them down now. Not when they had a chance to turn things around.

Overhead came the rhythmic thunder of a helicopter. The cow shifted uneasily.

'Sightseers?' Sam shouted. 'Or have you been hiding some well–heeled friends?'

'I wish!' The only ones she knew with that much money were the banks. Luisa's stomach coiled in a familiar twist of anxiety. Time was fast running out for the co–op.

Inevitably her mind turned to that other world she'd known so briefly. Where money was no object. Where wealth was taken for granted.

If she'd chosen she could be there now, a rich woman with not a financial worry in the world. If she'd put wealth before love and integrity, and sold her soul in that devil's bargain.

Just the thought of it made her ill.

She'd rather be here in the mud, facing bankruptcy with the people she loved than be as wealthy as Croesus, if it meant giving up her soul.

'Ready, Sam?' Luisa forced herself to focus. She put her shoulder to the cow. 'Now! Slow and steady.'

Finally, between them, they got the animal unstuck and moving in the right direction.

'Great,' Luisa panted. 'Just a little more and—' Her words were obliterated as a whirring helicopter appeared over the rise.

The cow shied, knocking Luisa. She swayed, arms flailing. Then her momentum propelled her forwards into the boggy mess. Wet mud plastered her from face to feet.

'Luisa!' Are you OK?' Her uncle, bless him, sounded more concerned than amused.

She lifted her head and saw the cow, udder swaying, heave onto firm ground and plod away without a backward glance. Gingerly Luisa found purchase in the sodden ground and crawled to her knees, then her feet.

'Perfect.' She wiped slime from her cheeks. 'Mud's supposed to be good for the complexion, isn't it?' She met Sam's rheumy gaze and smiled.

She flicked a dollop of mud away. 'Maybe we should bottle this stuff and try selling it as a skin tonic.' 'Don't laugh, girl. It might come to that.'

Ten minutes later, her overalls, even her face stiff with drying mud, Luisa left Sam and trudged up to her house. Her mind was on this morning's phone call. Their finances looked fright–eningly bleak.

She rolled stiff shoulders. At least a shower was only minutes away. A wash, a quick cup of tea and…

She slowed as she topped the hill and saw a helicopter on the grass behind the house. Gleaming metal and glass glinted in the sun. It was high–tech and expensive—a complete contrast to the weathered boards of the house and the ancient leaning shed that barely sheltered the tractor and her rusty old sedan.

Fear settled, a cold hard weight in her stomach. Could this be the inspection the banker had mentioned? So soon?

It took a few moments before logic asserted itself. The bank wouldn't waste money on a helicopter.

A figure appeared from behind the chopper and Luisa stumbled to a halt.

The sun silhouetted a man who was long, lean and elegant. The epitome of urbane masculinity.

She could make out dark hair, a suit that probably cost more than her car and tractor put together, plus a formidable pair of shoulders.

Then he turned and walked a few paces, speaking to someone behind the helicopter. His rangy body moved with an easy grace that bespoke lithe power. A power that belied his suave tailored magnificence.

Luisa's pulse flickered out of rhythm. Definitely not a banker. Not with that athletic body.

He was in profile now. High forehead, long aristocratic nose, chiselled mouth and firm chin. Luisa read determination in that solid jaw, and in his decisive gestures. Determination and something completely, defiantly masculine.

Heat snaked through her. Awareness.

Luisa sucked in a startled breath. She'd never before experienced such an instant spark of attraction. Had wondered if she ever would. She couldn't suppress a niggle of disturbing reaction.

Despite his elegant clothes this man looked.dangerous.

Luisa huffed out a choked laugh. Dangerous? He'd probably faint if he got mud on his mirror–polished shoes.

Behind the house, worn jeans, frayed shirts and thick socks flapped on the clothes line. Her mouth twitched. Mr stepped–from–a–glossy–magazine couldn't be more out of place. She forced herself to approach.

Who on earth was he?

He must have sensed movement for he turned.

'Can I help you?' Her voice was husky. She assured herself that had nothing to do with the impact of his dark, enigmatic stare.

'Hello.' His lips tilted in a smile.

She faltered. He was gorgeous. If you were impressed by impossibly handsome in a tough, masculine sort of way. Or gleaming, hooded eyes that intrigued, giving nothing away. Or the tiniest hint of a sexy cleft in his chin.

She swallowed carefully and plastered on a smile.

'Are you lost?' Luisa stopped a few paces away. She had to tilt her chin up to look him in the eye.

'No, not lost.' His crisp deep voice curled with just a hint of an accent. 'I've come to see Ms Hardwicke. I have the right place?'

Luisa frowned, perplexed.

It was a rhetorical question. From his assured tone to his easy stance, as if he owned the farm and she was the interloper, this man radiated confidence. With a nonchalant wave of his hand he stopped the approach of a burly figure rounding the corner of the house. Already his gaze turned back to the homestead, as if expecting someone else.

'You've got the right place.'

She looked from the figure at the rear of the house whose wary stance screamed bodyguard, to the chopper where the pilot did an equipment check. Another man in a suit stood talking on a phone. Yet all three were focused on her. Alert.

Who were these people? Why were they here?

A shaft of disquiet pierced her. For the first time ever her home seemed dangerously isolated.

'You have business here?' Her tone sharpened.

Instinct, and the stranger's air of command, as if used to minions scurrying to obey, told her this man was in a league far beyond the local bank manager.

An uneasy sensation, like ice water trickling down her spine, made her stiffen.

'Yes, I need to see Ms Hardwicke.' His eyes flicked to her again then away. 'Do you know where I can find her?'

Something in that single look at her face, not once dropping to her filthy clothes, made her burningly self–conscious. Not just of the mud, but the fact that even clean and in her best outfit she'd feel totally outclassed.

Luisa straightened. 'You've found her.'

This time he really looked. The intensity of that stare warmed her till she flushed all over. His eyes widened beneath thick dark lashes and she saw they were green. The deep, hard green of emeralds. Luisa read shock in his expression. And, she could have sworn, dismay.

Seconds later he'd masked his emotions and hi...


More About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Annie West loves writing passionate, intense love stories. She has devoted her life to an in depth study of tall, dark, charismatic heroes who cause the best kind of trouble in the lives of their heroines. Creating heroines who are a perfect match for those strong, stubborn men is one of her all time favorite things. As a sideline she's also researched dreamy locations for romance, from vibrant cities to desert encampments and fairytale castles.

Annie won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for 'Protected By the Prince' and her titles have finaled in or won a range of romance reader awards. Romantic Times said in its review of The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride 'This is what a love story could be.'. CataRomance described it as '...an awesome page turner filled with sizzling sexual tension...'.

You can catch up on Annie's latest news at her website www.annie-west.com or via Facebook. She lives with her family at beautiful Lake Macquarie on the east Coast of Australia. She loves to hear from readers and you can contact her at annie(at)annie-west(dot)com

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A well written story.
Debra Quiles
So he set out to look for the exiled Princess and found her in the outback of Australia, mucking out stalls and tending to cows!
Nas Dean
Raul for most of his adult life had lived to shut out his emotions.
Marilyn Shoemaker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nas Dean on April 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Prince of Scandal (Harlequin Presents)

PRINCE OF SCANDAL is another royal story by Annie West

Prince Raul is not happy to learn that in order to inherit the crown on his father's death, he had to marry a Princess from another Principality in his kingdom. Their contract of marriage was drawn up when they were teens. It was out and out an arranged marriage.

But Raul had worked for his kingdom and his people for so long now and he knew that he was the best person to become the king. So he set out to look for the exiled Princess and found her in the outback of Australia, mucking out stalls and tending to cows! Luisa was running a farm.

After some hesitatation, Luisa agreed to come with Raul to his kingdom. But she does not agree to marry him. Raul took her to Paris and saw to some changes in Luisa's wardrobe and hairstyle for a makeover from a farmer into a Princess. But he, himself is staggered by the change.

While Luisa stayed at Raul's palace, after some major consideration and to help him inherit, she decided to marry Raul. The chemistry between Raul and Luisa sizzled. And the passion and sensuality in their love-making was breathtakingly astounding.

Though Luisa fell for Raul, she knew she was not his first choice of a wife, as in Luisa's words, "Do you know how it feels knowing I wasn't your first choice of wife, not even second? That you married me because of who my grandfather was?"

Raul is anguished at Luisa's rejection of him. He didn't believe in love. Yet terror engulfed him at the thought of life without her. Never holding her and telling her he couldn't live without her.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Dionne VINE VOICE on July 24, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Raul, Prince of Maritz, will do whatever he must in order to gain his inheritance and the title of King. He's spent his entire life being groomed for the position and takes the well-being of Maritz's people very seriously - especially with the unrest that's become so very obvious in recent years. Unfortunately his future, and that of Maritz, depends on an archaic law which dictates that he must marry the recently discovered princess of Ardissia.

Luisa Hardwicke isn't interested in Ardissia or Maritz and she certainly has no desire to play some pampered princess for a kingdom she despises. She has her own reasons for choosing to live a meager existence working to save a dairy co-op. She's definitely not princess material with her mud-splattered attire, clumpy boots and lack of proper behavior. Luisa has a mind of her own and isn't afraid to speak it - and nothing Raul says is going to change her mind about accompanying him to Maritz.

Raul's stunned by Luisa's refusal of her inheritance and doesn't even tell her about her expected roll in his life before she summarily throws him out of her home. Of course she thanks him for bringing her the news in person but suggests he find someone else to inherit. What she doesn't expect is for Raul to use the farming co-op's financial troubles to gain her cooperation. He purchases all the co-op's debts and if Luisa doesn't agree to return to Maritz and accept her place as a princess as well as his bride then he will foreclose on the properties and livelihoods of her friends and family. Luisa is blackmailed into doing Raul's bidding but she makes sure he knows it's entirely against her will.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Clarke on July 3, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wonderfully crafted Prince and deliciously self assured woman - about time HP has a woman treated with respect by author. I love a great storyline, with mutual respect, strong characters with integrity and Annie West delivers! Luisa is magnificent at her wedding and blows off OW Ana without a word - my all-time favourite HP scene. And yes, as already mentioned, the milking cow is rather funny.

My first Annie West story and I look forwards to more of this calibre. Faultless reading - highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debra Quiles on April 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A well written story. Louisa and raul. Their story, how they challenge one another. She doesn't back down. He struggles, with feeling. Read and find out the ending. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good easy read really enjoyed the story between the heto and the heroin really enjoyed the dialogs between them from the beginning
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