Lizzy Mitchell has something that Prince Rico Ceraldi wants: she's the adoptive mother of the young heir to the throne of San Lucenzo, Rico's Mediterranean principality!
Lizzy will do anything for her little boy! When Rico demands a marriage of convenience, she says yes. It's a union in name only, as Rico considers her far too ordinary. But a royal wedding means a royal makeover...and then Rico decides to bed his princess bride!
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March 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Royally Bedded, Regally Wedded by Julia James
"OH MY darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Benjy-mine--You are mucky, oh, so mucky, so it's Benjy's bathy-time."
Lizzy chirruped away, pushing the laden buggy along the narrow country lane as dusk gathered in the hedgerows. Crows were cawing overhead in the trees near the top of the hill, and the last light of day dwindled in the west, towards the sea, half a mile back down the coombe. It was still only late spring, and primroses gleamed palely in the verges and clustered in the long grass of the lower part of the hedge. The upper part was made of stunted beech, its branches slanted by the prevailing west wind off the Atlantic, which, even now, was combing along the lane and whipping her hair into yet more of a frizz--though she'd fastened it back as tightly as she could. But what did she care about her awful hair, charity shop clothes and total lack of looks? Ben didn't, and he was all she cared about in the world.
"Not mucky, Mummy. Sandy,'Ben corrected her, craning his head round reprovingly in the buggy.
"Mucky with sand," compromised Lizzy. "Keep singing," instructed Ben.
She obeyed.At least Ben was an uncritical audience. She had no singing voice at all, she knew, but for her four-year-old son that was not a problem. Nor was it a problem that everything he wore, and all his toys--such as they were--came from jumble sales or from charity shops in the local Cornish seaside town.
Nor was it a problem that he had no daddy, like most other children seemed to have.
He's got me, and that's all he needs, Lizzy thought fiercely, her hands gripping the buggy handles as she pushed it along up the steepening road, hastening her pace slightly. It was growing late, and therefore dark, but Ben had been enjoying himself so much on the beach, even though it was far too cold yet to swim, that she had stayed later than she had intended.
But its proximity to the beach had been the chief reason that Lizzy had bought the tiny cottage, despite its run-down condi-tion, eleven months ago, after selling her flat in the London suburbs. It was much better to bring a child up in the country.
Her face softened.
That was what his name meant, and it was true--oh, so true! He had been blessed with life against all the odds, and she had been blessed with him. No mother, she knew, could love her child more than she did.
Not even a birth mother.
Grief stabbed at her with a familiar pain. Maria had been so young. Far too young to leave home, far too young to be a model, far too young to get pregnant and far too young to die. To be smashed to pieces in a hideous pile-up on a French motorway before she was twenty.
Lizzy's eyes were pierced with sorrow. Maria--so lovely, so pretty. The original golden girl. Her long blonde hair, her wide-set blue eyes and angelic smile. Her slender beauty had been the kind of beauty that turned heads.
And sold clothes.
Their parents had been aghast when Maria had bounded in from school, still in her uniform, and told them that she'd been spotted by a scout for a modelling agency. Lizzy had been de-spatched to chaperon the eighteen-year-old Maria when she went up to the West End for her try-out shoot. The two girls had reacted very differently to the experience, Lizzy recalled. Maria had been ecstatic, instantly looking completely at home in the fashionable milieu, while Lizzy couldn't have felt more out of place or more awkward--as if she were contaminated by some dreadful disease.
Lizzy knew what that disease was. She'd known it ever since her blue-eyed, golden-haired sister had been born, two years after her, when, overnight, she had become supremely unimportant to her parents. Her sole function had been to look out for Maria.And that was what she'd done. Walked Maria to school, stayed late at clubs Maria had belonged to, helped her with her homework and then, later, with exam revision.