Hero: Xander Drakos is the rebel wastrel prince of Kyrnos. He left the country after his mother’s death. He blamed himself for her death as much as his father and brother did. He pushed his feelings away and drowned his sorrows in all the wrong places, never healing. Now he’s back in the country to finally do his duty as heir-apparent and take over the throne from his ailing father. Just one problem… nobody particularly wants him back.
Heroine: Layna Xenakos was permanently disfigured by acid in the unrest that occurred when Xander left the country. She’s hid herself in a nunnery, believing the lack of vanity makes her a better humanitarian. But, she does care deeply about her appearances—she just buries her feelings and locks them away. That is, until Xander walks back into her quiet life asking her to pick up their relationship as if he never left… to help him win the people over again. Well good luck, he’s going to have to win her over first.
Review: This was a different romance than your usual fare, because it is the heroine that is scarred and not the hero. Layna in a nunnery reminded me of Sound of Music (or maybe I’ve been looking for Sound of Music ever since I got the Blu-Ray and went to Salzburg.) I also thought it was interesting that both of the main characters had spent the time apart hiding from the world. Yes, I know Xander was out in it and living the wild life, but he wasn’t really active in it. He used the club scenes and gambling scenes to hide from himself. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like the characters a little more than I did. I didn’t really connect with them.
Heroine: Lily Ford runs her own public relations business. When a new deal demands exclusivity, she dumps the competition in a hot minute. Who knew the exclusivity also meant sacrificing her personal life? Being at a tycoon’s beck and call may sound sexy, but it means early mornings, late nights, and plenty of firefighting to keep the press at bay… and it also involves marriage? Not something easily palpable to a woman who’s resistant to love (at least her mother’s version of it).
Hero: Gage Forrester made his millions in property development. He’s a tough man to work for and demands every employee go above and beyond the call of duty… including his PR contractor. When an unexpected family fiasco erupts, Gage is determined to suppress the gossip and press by generating positive PR. His solution? Marriage. He proposes to Lily in the name of business, but Gage is determined to also make the marriage real.
Review: Gage is an interesting hero – he’s already been a father to his younger sister and did it well. He’s not ready to put his hat in the ring again for kids. It doesn’t appeal to him. Neither does marriage, well okay, maybe marriage to the right woman. Both Gage and Lily are aware of each other and their effect. They have great dialogue and great chemistry. What’s nice about this book is that Lily is not helpless. She’s a go-getter and at the top of her game, just like Gage. They’re equals. The paper marriage was a farce from the beginning though and not at all necessary other than to force the leads into matrimony.
When Elaine finishes her presentation with business tycoon Marco De Luca, she’s confident he will see things her way and agree with the merger. What she doesn’t expect, is having to defend her proposal for a marriage of convenience. Surely he should see the benefits? If they got married and divorced in a year, he would see profits and she could rightfully gain the family business that should have been hers to begin with. Marco could care less, but he is intrigued by Elaine herself and accepts her offer with a lot of demands tacked onto it.
The prenuptial agreement shows Elaine just what sort of man she is dealing with. A caveman! As his wife, she must live with him to keep up appearances. As his wife she must be faithful, but he can have any number of women he wants. As his wife, she’s expected to drop her life at his convenience and attend dinners, functions, and whatever else may come up. Oh and he wants her to change her look too. No more hiding behind the façade of an ice queen. Gone are her boxy suits and in their place are slinky outfits requiring extra stitching in the bosom region to make them decent. The final demand that she loses everything if she gets pregnant makes her want to laugh. No problem on that end – there’s no way she’d sleep with Marco – or fall in love which is something he warns her against doing.
The sexual tension between these two could set the pages on fire from rubbing together. Hot. Hot. Hot. Oh and more hot. *g* It just builds and builds and builds until the hero and heroine can’t stand another moment apart without touching. Goody! The witty repartee between the two is extremely amusing.
Both of the leads have murky histories. All Elaine could find on Marco’s family is that his dad was wealthy. Whenever she broaches the subject he changes it. Marco has heard the rumors that ruined Elaine’s career before it even started. When the man who started them shows up he rescues her but keeps his cynical attitude in full force. After all, he’s learned the hard way that women always have ulterior motives and priorities.