A smart, independent woman with a gorgeous four-year-old son, Mia Marcelli lost her one true love. Four years ago, while working undercover for the CIA, she watched Diego, the father of her unborn child, perish before her very eyes -- crumbling the world around her. But one morning she awakens to find Diego lying next to her, alive and well with an unbelievable confession: he is really Rafael, Prince of Calandria, and he had been working covertly on the same mission when they met -- his death had been staged. Utterly stunned, Mia is wary and delighted -- she may have suffered a broken heart, but her breathtakingly handsome lover is back to reignite the passion that existed between them. Little does she know that Rafael has returned to give his newfound son a proper upbringing back in Calandria -- even if it means seducing Mia into marriage. But when Rafael finds himself truly falling for this luscious beauty, he must decide between his royal duties and the woman who has claimed his heart.
The finale of Mallery's Marcelli family series (after The Marcelli Bride) is a charming but exasperating misfire. Mia Marcelli is shocked to wake up in her California home next to the father of her four-year-old son, a man she believed had been killed. It turns out that he's not the thief she thought he was, but rather Crown Prince Rafael of Calandria. She doesn't yet know it, but he's come to claim his love child and heir-and once his son is on Calandrian soil, Mia will have no legal rights to him. Rather then deal honestly with Mia, Rafael schemes to get his son before the truth is revealed, giving him all the more work to do when the time comes to redeem himself. Most of the previously introduced Marcelli clan return in this book, but Mia and her family are its best part. The sexist, duty-bound Rafael is a one-note brooder who doesn't do much to win over the reader, despite some humor and strong chemistry between the leads. Mia's unlikely history as a secret agent and the "disguised prince's secret baby" premise may require more suspension of disbelief than readers can spare, though series fans will find much to enjoy in the family dynamics. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 26, 2007
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Excerpt from The Marcelli Princess by Susan Mallery
Mia Marcelli was used to sleeping alone so it came as something of a shock to wake up with a strange man in her bed. She did what any other self-actualized, self-defense-trained woman would do -- she screamed and jumped to her feet.
"Big mistake," she yelled as she backed toward the door. "You shouldn't have broken in here. I have access to weapons, and grandmothers who don't like this sort of thing. My brother's a former Navy SEAL."
The man sat up and smiled at her. "I see you still talk too much, Mia. When an unknown man appears in your bed, you should run."
He knew her name. That startled her nearly as much as the fact that he was giving her advice. It didn't seem like normal behavior for a guy intent on raping and pillaging. Assuming anyone really pillaged these days.
She paused by the door and pushed her bangs out of her face. There was something familiar about the man. The hair and eye color were all wrong, but the shape of his face reminded her of someone. And that mouth -- she would remember it until she died.
"Diego?" she breathed, knowing this stranger couldn't be him. Diego was dead. She'd seen the bullets hit his body, had watched him fall to the ground. There'd been so much blood.
"Am I that different?" the man asked as he stood and smiled at her. "Has so much changed?"
It was him, she thought, too stunned to do much more than gasp. "H-how is this possible? Why aren't you dead? I saw you die. Dead people don't have conversations."
"It is a long story. Perhaps one I could tell you over breakfast."
That voice. She would know it anywhere. It had haunted her dreams for the past five years.
Dead people also don't eat. "Get back," she said, feeling both shocked and angry. When in doubt, get pissed off.
It was a philosophy she'd learned worked for her. "I don't know what this game is, but I'm not playing it."
"Mia, it is I. You must recognize me."
Right now she didn't have to do anything but keep from having a heart attack from the shock, and wish she kept a weapon in her room. Something big and scary.
The bedroom door flew open and her two grandmothers burst inside. Grandma Tessa had a fire poker in one hand, and Grammy M threatened Diego with a rolling pin.
"Call Joe," Tessa ordered Mia. "He'll take care of this scumbag."
Scumbag? Someone had been watching just a little too many police dramas.
"I'm not sure he's a scumbag," Mia said, still finding it difficult to believe her own eyes. "I might know this guy."
"You do know me," he said, his voice washing over her like a familiar and welcome memory. "Mia, it is I."
Diego? Was it possible? Conflicting emotions raced through her. She wanted to run into his arms and have him hold her forever. At the same time she wanted to grab the poker and beat him over the head with it.
"You're supposed to be dead," she said, still confused and angry, and maybe just a little scared. Because if this guy really was Diego, she was going to have a lot of explaining to do.
"So you keep saying," he told her, sounding more amused than anything else. "Would you be more happy if I were?"
"It would make more sense. I don't believe in ghosts...or vampires."
He actually smiled. "Good, because I am neither. Mia," -- he took a step toward her -- "trust your eyes and your heart. I am the man you knew as Diego."
"We don't trust people who pretend to be someone else," Grandma Tessa said with surprising force despite her small stature and advanced years. "Who do you think you are now?"
"I know I am Rafael, Crown Prince of Calandria."
Mia rolled her eyes. Great -- a crazy man in her bedroom, and she hadn't even had coffee yet. "Right, and I'm the Sleeping Beauty."
This had gone on long enough. Mia took the poker from her grandmother and held it out in front of her. "That's it. I don't know who you are or what you want, but you're in big trouble. Grammy M, call Joe."