Manhattan magazine editor and fashionista Kimi Renton is one of the beautiful people at couture week every year. But this time she's stuck with a rumpled P.I. posing as her photographer. Holden MacGreggor is tough-guy gorgeous--and badly attired. So if he's going to play the part right, she's going to have to dress him properly...then undress him slowly.
Soon they're having so much fun under the covers they almost forget that they're supposed to be undercover, busting up an international theft ring. Then ooh, la la turns into oh-oh when they're found out.
Could this be the last tango in Paris for both of them?
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from French Kissing by Nancy Warren
"I love Paris in the spri-ing-time" was playing in Kimberley Renton's mind as she headed to her first big event of couture week in her favorite city in the world.
Her over-the-top heels clicked like fingers snapping to the beat of the song as she walked along the Rue de Rivoli. Her designer skirt in black-and-white taffeta pirouetted around her. The matching black jacket frowned down at such exuberance while the crisp white card in her hand gave her entree to one of the best parties in the fashion world.
As fashion editor for Uptown, one of the most respected women's magazines in the States, Kimi was in Paris for couture week to see the greatest clothing designs in the world unveiled for the very first time. She had a front-row seat to every fashionista's fantasy.
She watched as celebrities arrived at the discreet address of Simone, enjoying her reign as the top French designer. The tabloids, TV and gossip mags would, of course, showcase the stars and starlets who helped give couture week its sex appeal, but she knew that for this one week, she and her kind were more important to the top designers than that pop singer and her movie-producer boyfriend, now stopping for a photo at the top of the red-carpeted stairs, or the recently reconciled A-list stars emerging from their shiny black limo.
Still, it was fun, in an Academy Awards-night kind of way to watch the hoopla surrounding the celebrities. There were plenty of photojournalists and cameras to document the arrivals. A hundred or so fans and gawkers hung around at the bottom of the steps taking in the show.
As the black limo glided away, a white limousine pulled up. As the door opened, a muffled scream came from the crowd. Nicola Pietra emerged from the limo and paused, so accustomed to being photographed that she had her trademark sexy but rather sad smile on her face even before the folds of her gown had settled. A waiflike young woman with cascading dark curls and dark, slightly slanting eyes, she was an Italian screen goddess with a gorgeous face and body and searing sexuality.
Her accent was slight enough to be pretty and she seemed to cultivate the inevitable comparisons with Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. Kimi, half-Italian herself, had enjoyed following Nicola's rise to fame, first in Italian art films and then in bit parts in American movies, to her current status as bona fide movie star. The actress's jewels flashed in the glare of the cameras as she waited for Mark Apple, America's Number One Box Office Stud to join her, and then the pair gave the photographers and fans a few moments to snap and gaze their fill.
With efficient bodyguards keeping autograph seekers at bay, they walked slowly up the steps arm in arm. Their approaching wedding was causing a frenzy not seen since TomKat had obsessed the world. Like TomKat, Bennifer, Brangelina and Posh and Becks, this couple also had its cutsie moniker.
Nicola Pietra and MarkApple had only too easily become ApplePie.And not a slice would be left after the media were done with the pair, Kimi thought, watching the flashing bulbs, and listening to the questions and good wishes shouted in many languages. It was one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that the pair was in Paris for fittings for the wedding dress for their highly anticipated nuptials.
Even in Paris, a city famous for its disdain of celebrity, there was a crowd out to cheer at the couple. Rumor had it that Mark Apple, whose string of hits seemed to have gone to his pretty head, had tried to rent Buckingham Palace for the wedding. When told he couldn't rent the queen's home, he'd attempted to buy the luxurious palace. He'd been quoted as saying that since he had three times the net worth of the Windsors, he was still willing to negotiate a deal.
Based on the couple's idea of a wedding venue, Kimi could only imagine what the gown was going to be like, and wait--along with the rest of the world--for its official unveiling this week.
Prior to the wedding the gown was to be modeled here at the couture show. That was the condition that Simone had negotiated before agreeing to design the exclusive dress. Simone, as full of whims as the bridal couple, was arguably the greatest designer of the new millennium. Her designs were outrageous, unforgettable, and the cost of a gown was never revealed. It was another of her conditions. She followed the maxim that if you have to ask the price you can't afford it to the ultimate degree.
At last, Mark, in Armani, and Pietra in a stunning Valentino gown of crimson silk with a feathered train, entered the hallowed halls of fashion and, almost immediately, the crowd thinned. In a mixture of French, Italian and English, Kimi heard the verdicts. The English comments were mostly about the couple's looks.