How do you like your heroines? Do you like them to give up when they are staring adversity in the face, or do you want them to fight?
That’s a no brainer, of course. We all want our heroines to be strong, to take a deep breath and stand their ground and take the fight up to the hero, even if on the inside they’re a shuddering mess of nerves. Otherwise they wouldn’t be heroines. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.
Valentina Henderson is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Her mother is bankrupt, her father’s property threatened and the one man who could prevent it is set to ruin them both if Valentina does not agree to his terms. All she has to do is share Luca Barbarigo’s bed.
It doesn’t sound too onerous, really. The man might be too arrogant for words, but he is drop dead gorgeous, owns pots of money and lives in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. Most women would be lining up to share his bed.
But Valentina’s been there before, just one time only, and she’s suffered the dreadful consequences. She has no desire ever to return. But she has no choice. Except for how she agrees.
She could give in meekly. Roll over. Play dead.
Or she could do it her way…
A stunning palazzo, she registered as they climbed, with terrazzo floors and stuccoed walls and heavy beamed ceilings so high they were in no way oppressive.
Or were they?
Only one flight of steps, but suddenly she needed oxygen, as if the air was thinner the higher they climbed. But it wasn’t the air, she knew. It was being here, in the lion’s den, about to take on the lion at his own game.
It was anticipation, both terrifying and delicious, for what would come next.
And what could have been a spike of fear and the chance for cowardice to surface and set her fleeing down the stairs, turned into a surge of strength. Did he really think she could be forced into something, to tumble meekly into his bed? Damn the man but she would not crawl to him like some simpering virgin begging for favours.
The stairs opened to a sitting room so elegant it could feature in a magazine – maybe the sofas and dark timber leant towards the masculine – but the overall effect was of light and space.
How her mother’s house was meant to look, it occurred to her. Probably did look, before Eduardo had taken her for his wife and she’d become addicted to the factory shops of Murano and let her passion for glass suck up the every last Euro and every available inch of space.
Through a set of timber doors, the valet led her, and yet another reception room until finally they were at another set of tall timber doors where the valet knocked and showed her in, pulling the door closed behind him as he left.
Her heart kicked up a beat when she saw him.
The lion was in.
He sat sprawled arrogantly in a chair behind an acre of desk across a room that went forever and then some. And still he owned the room. It was an extension of him, paying tribute to his inexorable power. She wrenched her eyes from his and studied the desk before him. Antique if she wasn’t mistaken, but masculine and strong and with legs that were solid and built to last whatever the ages would throw at it.
It would do nicely.
‘Valentina,’ he said, without standing, his voice measured, his
dark eyes waiting for answers. ‘This is a surprise.’
‘Is it?’ She looked around at the door. ‘Does that lock from the inside?’
He cocked his head, the shadow of a frown pulling his brows closer together. ‘Why do you ask?’
She shrugged the straps of her backpack from her shoulders, letting the weight drag it to the ground at her feet, making not a move to stop it hitting the floor. ‘It would be a shame to get interrupted.’”
Could you be as brave and as brazen as Valentina? I don’t know that I could be, but I do know she was a heck of a lot of fun to write.
As to why she took such a keen interest in Luca’s desk, I guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out:-)