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"Absolutely loved and adored Rules of Their Royal Wedding Night." Harlequin Junkie
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CHAPTER ONE (opening excerpt)
ELSBETH FERNANDEZ STEPPED into Ceres Cathedral, her arm held by her cousin, Dominic. Why he gripped it so tightly was beyond her. She’d been nothing but compliant with his wishes that she marry Prince Amadeo. She was always compliant. King of her home principality, Monte Cleure, Dominic’s word was law, especially for the female members of his family.
Her handsome prince, who she’d met only once at their pre-wedding party, stood far in the distance. Their marriage had been agreed, like everything else in her life, without Elsbeth’s input, but when the man tasked with negotiating the marriage had privately asked if she was willing, she hadn’t hesitated to say yes. In all honesty, her prince could be the ugliest man in the world and she would still have agreed to marry him, so it was her good fortune that he was the handsomest prince in Europe.
He was so tall! She’d marvelled at the height difference between them and secretly delighted that he stood a foot taller than Dominic. He didn’t look to have an ounce of fat on him either, unlike her obese cousin and the majority of the male members of the House of Fernandez, who liked to gorge. Her prince—and Elsbeth had taken to privately, gleefully, referring to him as her prince since the order had come for her to marry him—had a body that was indisputably hard. Sculpted. His face had a sculpted quality to it too with its chiselled jawline, accentuated bow of the top lip and long, straight nose.
She hoped he would be a kind husband. Or at least as kind as a royal prince used to his word being law could be. Elsbeth knew her duty as a future king’s wife was to follow her husband’s lead in all matters, speak only when spoken to, never give an opinion on anything weightier than flower arrangements, never disagree with her husband in public or in private and, most importantly, breed as many children as her husband desired. She prayed she was fertile. She would hate to disappoint him on any matter but a failure to breed would be classed as unforgivable and could see her divorced and sent back to Monte Cleure. It had happened to her aunt. Three years of a childless marriage and she’d been set aside and replaced with a new model.
Please let me give my prince children. Don’t give him an excuse to send me back to Monte Cleure.
Since their pre-wedding party, she’d prayed nightly that God grant her prince children, and then she’d closed her eyes and drifted into sleep, happily conjuring his clear green eyes and the black lashes surrounding them, and imagining what those firm but full lips would feel like pressed against her own and what his thick black hair would feel like threaded through her fingers.
The urge to run down the aisle to her prince was strong but Elsbeth maintained her steady pace by reminding herself that when she left this cathedral she would no longer be under Dominic’s subjugation.
While she knew much about the public image of the Berruti royal family and the workings of its reigning queen to ensure their relevance in the twenty-first century, she knew little about its private workings or the kind of man her prince was behind closed doors. Whatever the future held for her, it couldn’t be worse than her lot in the House of Fernandez. God wouldn’t be so cruel. Would He...?
Amadeo watched his bride make her way sedately down the aisle towards him, her arm linked with the man he despised most in the world, and made sure to keep his revulsion at both of them far from his face. The only positive he could take from this union was that Elsbeth was pretty. Very pretty, he grudgingly admitted. Her silky blonde hair had been elegantly swept off her oval face and as she walked closer to him the excitement was evident in her big blue eyes and the smile of her wide, plump mouth.
She’d displayed the same excitement at their pre-wedding party, the one and only time he’d met her. And yet, for all her smiles, which had quickly become grating, she’d hardly said a word. Not once had she started a conversation. She’d answered direct questions with a smile that didn’t falter but seemed not to have a single opinion or idea in her head.
Already sickened at being stuck with a Fernandez for the rest of his life and becoming a relation by law to the tyrannical, narcissistic, megalomaniac Dominic, his bride being a wilting wallflower only added to his antipathy at the situation. There had been no alternative though, not with their two nations on the brink of a full-blown trade and diplomatic war. Amadeo’s brother had lit the fire. Then, just as it was brought under control, his sister had thrown a can of petrol on it. This marriage was the only way to extinguish the fire in its entirety. For the sake of his nation, the monarchy he would one day head and his family, Amadeo was prepared to marry his enemy’s cousin. His whole life had been spent doing what was best for the monarchy, his human inclinations and desires stifled into submission.
If his siblings had stifled their desires and inclinations more effectively, he wouldn’t be standing here now.
His bride reached him.
As heir to the throne, Amadeo had always known the priority when he came to choose a bride would be suitability. After all, his wife would one day be Queen Consort and a figurehead for his great nation. Elsbeth’s breeding made her highly suitable for the role. He had though, expected to marry someone he could like and respect and whose company he enjoyed. Of those three traits, Elsbeth ticked the box of none.
Conscious that this most magnificent of occasions was being broadcast into the home of every Ceresian not lining the streets and into the homes of many Italians and other Europeans, he reached for her small hand and bestowed her with a practised smile. Baby blue eyes sparkling as brightly as the diamonds on her tiara, she returned his smile with an eagerness that made his stomach turn. With over a hundred million eyes watching his reaction though, he hid it, playing up for the cameras by mouthing, truthfully, ‘You look beautiful.’
She blushed at the compliment in a manner the cameras would adore. No doubt the cameras already adored her. He could already imagine the comments from the gushing reporters about the fairy-tale wedding dress the bride was wearing, all white lace and silk, emphasising but not displaying her generous bust—not a hint of cleavage was on display—and enhancing her slender waist before the skirt splayed out in the shape of a flamenco fan.
Hands clasped together, they turned their backs on the packed congregation and faced the bishop.
The night after their convenient vows…
Rule #1: They meet once a week… In the royal marriage bed!
After marrying solely for convenience and to produce an heir, Crown Prince Amadeo doesn’t expect to find such passion on his wedding night. He senses there’s more to shy Elsbeth than she reveals, but self-controlled Amadeo cannot allow emotion to distract him from his duty…
Elsbeth is prepared for a loveless union—anything’s better than the cruelty she left behind. She’s unprepared for the growing anticipation of being in Amadeo’s arms… But when her husband always follows the rules, can she convince him to break them…for her?
Rules of Their Royal Wedding Night