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CHAPTER ONE (opening excerpt)
CLARA SINCLAIR PACED her prison cell. If she was feeling charitable she’d admit her cell, which easily measured thirty by thirty feet and came with its own four-poster bed, an adjoining private bathroom and had three high bay windows with views straight onto the palace’s private harbour, was the kind of prison cell most incarcerated criminals would kill for. In some cases, again. Her current prison outfit was rather flashier than what an inmate would expect to wear too, being made of white silk with an overlay of white lace. If she hadn’t been forcibly straitjacketed into it, she might think it beautiful.
She almost wished her female guards were still in the cell with her. Then she could have the satisfaction of calling them every nasty name she could dredge up and watch their faces turn puce. But no, they’d all gone off to get themselves dolled up for the Monte Cleure event of the decade—Clara’s marriage to King Dominic of the House of Fernandez. Her other prison guards, two beefy men, were stationed on the other side of the door as they’d been since the first time she’d tried to escape. Still, she hadn’t shouted at them in at least twenty minutes, so she hammered on the door, and yelled, ‘May your bedsheets be cursed with ginormous bloodsucking bedbugs, you pigs!’
As with every other insult and curse she’d aimed at them these past two weeks, she was rewarded with silence.
The clock on her wall chimed the quarter hour. Goody. Only fifteen minutes to go before she was married off to the biggest pig of them all, the King himself. And she couldn’t even make a scene in the royal chapel, not with the threat to Bob’s life. Dominic would do it too. And probably take great pleasure from it.
What kind of evil bastard gave a woman a puppy and then used it as a weapon to threaten her with? The man she was marrying in fifteen minutes, that’s who. For now, Bob was safe and fast asleep in his basket. He would remain safe only if she said, ‘I do,’ without punching the groom. Or the priest. Or any of the guests.
Until she’d arrived in Monte Cleure and found herself held against her will, Clara had never hit anyone in her life, nor felt the urge to, not even her half-brother, who’d treated her like doggy-do since their father died and who was equally responsible for her predicament as the King himself.
What kind of evil bastard sold his own sister? Her brother, the Honourable Andrew Sinclair, that’s who.
She banged her fist on the door again. ‘You’re going to burn in hell for this, do you know that?’ she shouted before dramatically flinging herself onto the floor.
Bob woke up and padded over to curl onto her lap.
Stroking his soft head, she felt no compulsion to cry. She was too angry for tears and, in any case, tears solved nothing. Clara had learned that as a small child when her tears had failed to bring her mother back to life. She’d also learned that moaning and bewailing your bad fortune solved nothing either.
If she was going to escape, she needed to get a move on.
What had she missed? She had ten minutes left before they dragged her to the chapel.
The fireplace had been bricked up within minutes of them finding her wriggling up it. The air vent covers had been superglued in place as a precaution. Opening a window and screaming for help had resulted in Bob being dangled out of the window with the threat to drop him in the private harbour forty feet below.
She would make Dominic’s life a living hell. She would be the wife from Hades. If he thought he could bully her into compliance then he had another...
A tapping sound jolted her out of her furious musings and she raised her head sharply. There was a face at the window.
Certain she was imagining it, she blinked then blinked again. The face was still there.
It was a handsome face, the mouth curved into a wide grin, the tilting head indicating for her to hurry and open the window.
Scrambling to her feet, Clara almost tripped over the train of her wedding dress in her haste to reach the handsome stranger.
As she tugged at the sash window, she thought vaguely that there was something familiar about the handsome stranger but the joy of imminent rescue overrode it, as did the difficulty she was experiencing in opening the ruddy thing.
Dominic hadn’t had it glued stuck, had he? She couldn’t think when, not when she’d been confined to the room for two whole weeks, half of which had been spent with her head stuck out of this very window wondering if it was possible to make herself a rope out of her bedsheets and escape that way. She would have done it too if her female guards, or ‘companions,’ as Dominic called them, had left her for longer than twenty minutes at a time.
Just as she was thinking she’d have to smash the glass, there was some give. A bit more muscle and up the window rose.
‘Hello,’ she said, grinning broadly, placing where she knew the handsome face from. ‘Are you the cavalry?’
Ice-blue eyes sparkled. Straight white teeth flashed. ‘Ciao, bella. Would you like a ride in my helicopter?’
Crowning His Kidnapped Princess
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The beginning of this passionate romance is pure fantasy, setting the scene for a fairytale romance full of heartbreak, heat and humour.
NetGalley Reviewer, Jane Hunt
Stolen from the castle tower…
Right into the prince’s arms!
When daring Prince Marcelo Berruti rescues Clara Sinclair from a forced wedding, he makes international headlines. Now he’s facing a diplomatic crisis…unless he claims the beautiful bride-to-be himself!
Outspoken Clara hasn’t trusted a soul since her childhood. But now she owes dashing Marcelo her life. The least she can do is pretend to be hopelessly in love with him! When their desire explodes, it awakens the guarded virgin to everything she’s been missing. But is she ready for a lifetime of being in the royal spotlight?