- NA August 2007 -
MILLS AND BOON ROMANCE
- UK August 2007 -
- AUS/NZ September 2007 -
Amazon North America
Amazon North America
Amazon North America
THE MILLIONAIRE TYCOON'S ENGLISH ROSE
"Lucy Gordon revisits her Rinucci Brothers series with The Italian's Wife By Sunset, a charming, slightly spicy fantasy with a dishy hero and fabulous setting. 4 stars".
"Lucy Gordon has it all covered, a romantic setting, a chivalrous gorgeous man and a heroine that needs love in her life. The sexual tension between Carlo and Della sizzles, but the deeper caring the two have is just as palpable. The surprise twist had my heart fluttering a bit and is one I am sure all readers will appreciate. A sighing, enticing romance, THE ITALIAN'S WIFE BY SUNSET is destined for your keeper shelf. 4.5 stars"
Donna Zapf www.cataromance.com
Carlo Rinucci is the youngest of his family, but proves himself a man of stern determination when he falls in love with an older woman, and has to overcome her doubts as well as the world's scepticism.
Della has sought out Carlo to appear in a TV series she’s making. Instantly attracted, they take off driving around southern Italy, looking for locations for the series, and becoming lovers. Carlo doesn’t yet realize that Della is seven years his senior, but she tells herself it doesn’t matter. They’re just having an affair and one day he’ll leave her. She’ll cope with that.
Returning to Naples, Carlo drops her at her hotel and drives home, but he returns for her as soon as possible.
They had just spent over a week living closely together, but after little more than an hour away from Della Carlo found that the need to see her again was almost unbearable. At the hotel he parked the car and ran into the foyer, like a man seeking his only hope on earth.
The way to the elevators took him past the hotel boutique. Then he stopped, checked by a sight that sent a chill through him.
Della was there, wearing a stylish black cocktail dress that she was showing off to an extremely good-looking young man who looked to be in his early twenties. Then Della opened her arms wide. The young man did the same, and they embraced each other in a giant hug.
He heard her say,
“Don’t ask me why I love you. I suppose there’s a reason.”
Carlo wanted to do a thousand things at once; to run away and hide and pretend that this had never happened, and then perhaps the clock would turn back to before he’d seen her in the arms of another man. But he also wanted to race up to them and pull them apart. He wanted to punch the man to the ground, then turn on Della and accuse her, with terrible bitterness, of breaking his heart. He wanted to do all the violent things that were not in his nature.
But he did none of them. Instead, almost without realizing that he was moving, he went to stand in front of them. It was the young man who saw him first.
“Hey, I think your friend’s here,” he said cheerfully.
Then Della looked up, smiling, but making no effort to disentangle herself from the embrace.
“Hello, darling,” she said, “you haven’t met my son have you?”
Carlo clenched his hands. Her son! Who did she think she was kidding?
“Very funny,” he said coldly. “How old were you when you had him? Six?”
The young man roared with laughter, making Carlo dream of murder.
“It’s your own fault for looking so young,” he told her.
She chuckled and disengaged herself.
“I was sixteen when Sol was born,” she told Carlo. “And he’s twenty-one now. He looks older because he’s built like an ox.”
Sol grinned at this description and extended his hand. Dazed, Carlo shook it.
“We had no idea you were coming,” he said, appalled at how stupid the words sounded. But stupid was exactly how he felt.
“I thought I’d drop in and pay my ‘old lady’ an unexpected visit,” Sol said cheerfully. “Just to see what mischief she was up to.”
His ribald glance made it clear that he’d already formed his own opinion. Carlo decided that he could dislike Sol very much if he put his mind to it. But he forced himself to say politely,
“I hope you’ll be here long enough to visit my family. We’re having dinner with them tomorrow night and of course you must join us.”
“Love to. Fine, I’ll be off now.” He kissed Della’s cheek. “I’m in the room opposite yours. See ya!” Oh – yes – ” He seemed to become aware that the staff were nervously eyeing his new shirt.
“It’s all right,” she told them. “You can put his purchases on my bill.”
“Thanks Mom. ‘Bye!”
“I’ll be with you in a moment,” Della said and went into the changing room.
After a moment she emerged in her street clothes, paid her bill and gave her room number for the dress to be delivered.
A brief glance at the paperwork showed Carlo that she had spent about ten times as much on Sol as on herself.
They left the boutique and headed for the coffee bar next door. Carlo seemed thoughtful, and she guessed that he now had a lot to think about.
“I just got a nasty shock when I first saw you together,” he said. “I thought you had another guy. Sol looks older than he is.”
“Twenty-one, I swear it. And I’m thirty-seven,” she said lightly. “Thirty-seven!”
“Why do you say it like that, as though you were announcing the crack of doom?”
“We’ve never talked about my age before.”
“Why should we. There were always more interesting things to do?”
“But sooner or later you had to know that I was middle-aged – ”
“Middle-aged, rubbish!” he said, with a sharp, explosive annoyance that was rare with him. “Thirty-seven is nothing.”
“I suppose it might be, if you’re only thirty.”
Suddenly his face softened.
“You’re a remarkably silly woman, do you know that?” he asked tenderly.
“I’ve known it ever since I’ve met you.”
“And just what does that mean?”
“A sensible woman would have taken one look at you and fled before you turned her whole life upside down.”
“So why didn’t you?”
“Maybe I didn’t mind having my life turned upside down. Maybe I wanted it. I might even have said to myself that it didn’t matter what happened later because what we had would be worth it.”
He frowned. “But what do you think is going to happen later?”
“I don’t know, but I’m not looking too far into the future. There’ll be some sadness there somewhere – ”
“You don’t know that – ”
“Yes I do, because there’s always sadness.”
“Then we’ll face it together.”
“I mean after that,” she said slowly. “When it’s over.”
He stared. “You’re talking about leaving me, aren’t you?”
“Or you leaving me.”
“Dio mio! You’re planning our break-up.”
“I’m not planning it, just trying to be realistic. Seven years is quite a gap, and I know I should have told you before - ”
“Should you?” he murmured. “I wonder exactly when would have been the right moment.”
As he spoke he raised his head, looking at her directly, invoking a hundred memories.
When should she have told him? When they lay together in the closeness that was life and death in the same moment? When they walked in the dusk, arms entwined, their thoughts on the night ahead? When they awoke together in the mornings, sleepy and content?
He didn’t speak, but nor did he need to. The questions were there, unanswerable, like a knife twisting in her heart.
“We didn’t have to talk about it,” he said more gently, “because it doesn’t matter. It can’t touch us.”
“But it has to touch us.”
“Why? I knew you were older – ”
“Just a little. Not that much older. And darling, you can’t pretend it didn’t give you a shock. There was a moment back there when you were looking from Sol to me as if you were stunned.”
He stared at her, wondering how two people who loved each other so much could misunderstand each other so deeply. What she said was true. He had been totally stunned, reeling like a man who’d received a shattering blow.
But it wasn’t her age. It had been the moment when he’d seen her in Sol’s arms and thought she’d betrayed him. The extent of his pain had caught him off-guard, almost winding him. Nothing else had ever hurt so much. Nothing else would ever do so again.
It had confronted him with the full truth of his love, of the absolute necessity of being with her and only her as long as they both lived. He’d thought himself already certain, but for a moment it was as if she’d been snatched away from him, and he’d stared into a horrifying abyss.
And she thought he was worried about a trifle like her age.
“It’s true,” she urged. “You need to think about it.”
“I’m not listening to this,” he said impatiently. “You’re talking nonsense.”
“All right.” She made a placating gesture. “Let it go.”
His eyes flashed anger. “Don’t humour me.”
“I just don’t want to waste time arguing.”
“And I don’t want you brooding over it to yourself.”
“But it’s not just going to vanish, not unless I suddenly lose seven years.”
“Will you stop talking like that” he begged. “Thirty-seven is nothing these days. It doesn’t have to bother us unless we let it.”
“Are you going to wish it away?” she asked fondly.
He shook his head. “I’ll never wish you other than you are.”
“But one day – you might.”
His response to that was to pull her close and kiss her. There were faint cheers from other customers in the little café, for lovers were always popular.
As they drew apart she smiled and sighed, letting it go at that. Now time must pass while Carlo took in the full enormity of what he’d discovered. Already, she guessed that he was beginning to understand, which was why he’d moved to silence her.
Then he would realize that a permanent love was impossible, and together they could enjoy their time together, while they worked on the series. It all made perfect sense, and one day, perhaps, it would no longer hurt so much.
From the book THE ITALIAN'S WIFE BY SUNSET by Lucy Gordon.
Cover Copyright © 2007 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
~ a taste of italy at home ~