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The pictures scattered throughout the excerpt are of some of my favourite places in Rome:


The Tivoli


The Spanish Steps


The Colosseum





He will bed her…

Elise Carlton is looking forward to having her freedom. Years as a trophy wife have left her wary. But there is one man to whom she is not immune….

For revenge and for pleasure!

Vincente Farnese is rich and devastatingly handsome, his own special brand of dark Italian temptation! But it is no coincidence that Vincente has sought out Elise. What will she do when she discovers he wants her only for revenge?



Married to Ben Carlton, a man she hated, Elise had been released by his sudden death.  At his funeral she met Vincente Farnese, who’d been about to employ him in Rome.  She wondered what this assured, attractive Italian tycoon had wanted with the useless Ben.  Intrigued, she accepts his invitation to dinner, and they spar verbally.


   “Was Ben ever faithful to you?” Vincente asked.

   “I doubt it.  There were other women pretty soon after our marriage.”

   “Does that surprise you?”

   “Nothing I discover about Ben surprises me any more.  Even the way he  died.”

   “I heard some strange rumours about that.”

   “You mean the woman he was with when he had the heart attack?  She vanished so nobody knows who she was.”

   “A ship that passed in the night.”

   She gave a wry smile.  “There was a whole flotilla of those.”

   “Surely you must have loved him at some point?”

   “I never loved him,” she said simply, wondering why she was telling so much to this man.

   “That’s very interesting.”

   “I see.  You’re another who thinks I married Ben for what I took to be his vast wealth.  Give me patience!”

   “I don’t – ”

   “Listen, you said yourself, I don’t care what people say about me.  You’re right, and ‘people’ includes you.  Think what you like.”


   “I apologise,” he said quietly.

   “No, I suppose I should apologise,” she said wryly.

   “It’s natural that your nerves should be on edge after what you’ve been through.”

   “And stop being sympathetic and understanding.  It doesn’t suit you.”

   “How shrewd of you to have spotted that!”

   “Ben told me you’d be valuable to him in Rome.  He said you’d been there, and spoke Italian pretty well.”

   “I studied fashion in Rome for three months.”

   “And in that time you must have had many admirers.”

   He spoke in a mischievous voice and she laughed in return.

   “I had flirtations.  After all, you know – Italian men – ”

   “I know that no true Italian man could look at you without wanting to become your lover.”

   “Maybe it wasn’t just what they wanted.  Perhaps my own wishes came into it as well,” she said with a touch of irony.

   “What do you plan to do now?” he asked.

   “I’m not really sure.”

   “Come back to Rome with me.”

   “What for?  Ben won’t be working for you now.”

   “Can’t you simply treat yourself to a holiday?”  When she hesitated he said urgently, “When you were there as a young girl, did you ever visit the Trevi Fountain?”

   “Of course,” she murmured.

   She had been to the great fountain in the company of a young man with a bright face and a merry laugh.

   “You must toss a coin in and make a wish to return to Rome,” he told her.

   She tossed her coin into the water and cried aloud to the sky, “Bring me back.”

   “Come back forever,” he urged.

   “Forever and ever!” she cried ecstatically.

   “Love me always,” he begged.

   “Until my last moment.”

   A month later she’d left Rome, left the young man, and never seen either of them again.

   “And like all visitors you tossed a coin in and wished to return to Rome?” Vincente said now.  “Now it’s time to make the wish come true.”

   She shook her head.  “Memories are never the same.  You can’t go back.”

   “Maybe the truth will be better than your fears?”

   She shook her head.  “That never happens,” she said with soft violence.  “Never!”

   “So you’ve discovered that, have you?” he asked sombrely.

   The heaviness in his voice made her look up quickly, and for a moment she caught an unguarded expression in his eyes.  It vanished at once, but it showed her something he was trying to keep hidden.  Her interest grew.

   She leaned back in her chair and considered him.  The clubs lights were low, constantly changing from green to blue to red.  By chance it was red that bathed him now, giving him the look of a handsome devil.

   The musicians were in place, a young woman glided onto the stage and began to sing in a soft, throaty voice.  Suddenly the floor was alive with gently swaying dancers.

   Taking the hand he held out to her, letting him lead her onto the floor.  It would have been wiser to stay in her seat, but she was beyond wisdom.  She wanted to dance with him because she wanted to be held by him, held against him.  That was the plain truth.  And tonight she was going to please herself for the first time in years.

   She braced herself for the feel of his hand in the small of her back, but it was still a shock through the thin material.  He drew her close so that she could feel his body, his legs moving powerfully against hers, and there was no protection against that.

   Had she been crazy to agree to this?  Four years ago she’d thrown Ben out of her bed, and even before that her body had slept.  She’d thought it was the sleep of the dead, forgetting that the dead could awaken.  Now every part of her was becoming alive, and the pleasure was almost painful.

   She resisted it, knowing that this was one man she had to confront on equal terms.  But she also sensed that she had the power to catch him off guard, which could be the best way to face him down.

   She felt his arm tighten, silently insisting that she look up, and when she did so she found his mouth so dangerously close that for a moment they were exchanging breath.  The hot whisper across her lips strained her control so that she almost reached up and kissed him.

   In the event he made the first move.  Or did he?  His lips brushed hers so lightly that she couldn’t be sure what was dream and what reality.

   Wanting everything.  It was almost indecent to want everything with this stranger, but it was happening, despite her denials.  His mouth was on hers, pressing lightly, then more urgently.  She closed her eyes, yielding to the pure sensation, wanting more and more of it, shutting out the world.

   His hand moved slowly, upwards to caress the bare skin of her back, sideways to feel the flare of her hips, lower to enjoy the soft swell of her behind moving in the dance.

   For too long she’d lived like a nun, knowing there was no place in her life for desire.  But now it came dancing out of the darkness, dazzling and overwhelming her with the lure of the strange and almost unknown.  Inside she was aching to be returned to life after the long sleep that had been more like a coma.

   Why now? she wondered.  With him?

   Because he was made for seduction, her senses replied.  His body was designed for sex, long, lean, hard, pared down, subtly powerful.  With every touch it whispered what it could do for her, what they could do together.  His movements blended with hers so that they seemed to be making love right there on the dance floor.

   She felt a desire that was liberated from all feelings, raw, basic, uncomplicated.  She ached to be in his arms, in his bed.  She wanted to undress before his hungry gaze, making a delicious performance of it.  But she also wanted him to remove her clothes slowly, so slowly, heightening her excitement with every leisurely movement.

   She longed to join her nakedness to his, feeling his fingers explore her gently, then urgently, with passionate desire ever mounting until at last his control was destroyed and he claimed her with fierce abandon.

   Yes, she thought with sudden understanding, that was what she wanted most: to see this man, so sure of himself and his powers of command, lose all control because of her.  That would be satisfying as nothing else would be.

   Everything was there in her head, tingling along her nerves, the anticipation of what he would do and what she would do.  She tried to shut off the thought, fearful lest he sense it.  But, of course, he’d already sensed it.  That was what made him dangerous.

   “Why deny us what we both want?” he asked, reading her thoughts again in the way he did with such terrifying ease.

   “I don’t always take what I want,” she said, slowly.

   “That’s a mistake.  You haven’t had enough pleasure and satisfaction in your life.  You should take it now that you’re free.”

   “Is that how you live?”

   “Always,” he said, turning to guide her off the dance floor.  “Let’s go.”



From the book THE ITALIAN'S PASSIONATE REVENGE by Lucy Gordon.

 UK Release May 2008

Copyright 2007 by Lucy Gordon

UK ISBN 978-0263864250

Cover Copyright © 2008 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher.

The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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