Published by Harlequin Presents on September 19th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Out of the shadows... As the illegitimate secret daughter of royalty, Cat's life has been far from luxurious. After years of bullying, she's set against a return to her childhood home. But her princess half sister has mysteriously disappeared ahead of her engagement to charismatic King Alexander. ...into the bed of the king! Cat agrees to stand in for her--but she didn't agree to the electric attraction between her and Alex! He might have no idea who she really is--but when their insatiable desire threatens to strip away every boundary between them, Cat cannot hold back from the temptation of Alex's caress...
Cat swung round, her skirt belling around her. She was breathing hard, her delicate breasts pushing up against the beaded bodice. Alex’s throat dried as he imagined tracing a line along—
She yanked the bodice up. Flags of deep rose pink painted her cheeks, matching the colour of her dress. Though from the fit it clearly wasn’t her dress.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I’m staying here, remember? You haven’t answered. Why are you dancing alone?’
She shrugged. Alex watched those bare shoulders rise stiffly and was struck abruptly by her vulnerability.
It wasn’t something he naturally associated with Cat. She could take on most comers in physical combat and she had a sharp tongue when riled. She’d cut that camp director down to size without batting an eyelash.
Yet more than once he’d felt something that made him want to sweep her close and tell her everything would be okay.
He guessed if she had any idea how he responded to that forlorn look in her fine eyes she’d be horrified.
She turned away to switch off the music, her movements quick and far more fluid than when she’d been attempting the waltz. Strange how someone so supremely active should look uncomfortable dancing.
‘It turns out there will be dancing at the reception.’
‘You’re out of practice?’
Her laugh was humourless. ‘I’ve never danced in my life. Now they want me to open a royal ball, with you.’ Was that panic underlying her clipped words?
A frown tightened Alex’s forehead. ‘How can that be?’
‘Because I’m taking Amelie’s place, of course.’
‘I mean how can you never have danced?’
Her mouth flattened. ‘You sound like Lady Enide. Not everyone grows up attending balls.’ With her hands on her hips she was helping gravity tug her dress lower. Alex fought to keep his eyes on her face, not those delicious curves. ‘There’s no need to look so smug!’ Her gaze flashed fire and perversely he wanted more of that crackling energy. The alternative – seeing her looking almost lost – bothered him.
‘You must have gone to some sort of dance.’
She shook her head. ‘Never.’
In her ill-fitting gown, and her hair dressed in someone else’s style, it struck him how hard it must be, playing Cinderella in another woman’s place.
What had Cat’s life been? She’d never danced. She’d been bullied and hated talking about her family. His suspicions had been roused when he’d seen her fierce determination to protect young Thomas and recalled her saying her father had hands the size of dinner plates. Surely that wasn’t the first thing that should come to mind when describing a parent?
But what did he know? His father had been a slimy piece of work. Instead of using his hands he’d cut you down to size with his tongue and made you pay in other ways for disrupting his plans.
‘I’ll teach you.’
Instantly she stepped back. ‘There’s no need.’
‘You’ll never master it alone.’
Predictably that chin lifted. ‘Enide partnered me for a while but—’
‘But you need a man.’
‘I don’t need…’ Her voice stopped as he curled his arm around her waist and took her hand. She fitted him exactly.
‘Don’t argue. Put your other hand on my shoulder and follow my lead.’
‘But I don’t…’
‘Don’t argue, Cat. Or this will take even longer.’ Not that he minded longer. Looking into her dazzling eyes, breathing in her scent, holding her close, was the best he’d felt in days.
‘You’re holding me too tight.’
He shook his head. She was right but he was damned if he’d put a proper distance between them now.
‘But it’s uncomfortable. Enide insisted I wear heels and stockings. I hate stockings. They’re even worse than pantyhose.’ She was talking too fast, her breath nervous little puffs that landed on his chin.
She was right to be nervous.
Alex shut his eyes, fighting the urge to forget dancing and seduce her here where anyone could walk in. He’d start with those stockings. A shudder ripped through him at the thought of Cat’s long, toned legs in stockings. Of her smooth upper thighs above wispy nylon, then the warm silk of her—
– The setting for the palace of St Galla was inspired by the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – a beautiful Belle Epoque home on a peninsula in the south of France. It has gorgeous gardens, the most fabulous views of the sea and is very pretty in pink and white. The St Gallan royal palace is very similar though much larger and without the tourists! If you’re interested you can see photos I took of it on my website (www.annie-west.com) – just go to the page for ‘His Majesty’s Temporary Bride’. I was researching another book when I visited the area and had no idea that I’d find the setting for Cat and Alex’s story too while I was there. Serendipity!
– This book is the first in the Princess Seductions duet, the second being ‘The Greek’s Forbidden’ Princess’. The action in that book happens simultaneously with this one. There’s even a conversation between Cat and Princess Amelie that occurs from different points of view in both books.
– These stories evolved from an idea for a series of royal stories I came up with about several sisters. In the end I separated them. One of my characters turned into Princess Marisa, my heroine in a book that came out a few years ago, ‘Damaso Claims His Heir’. Alex, the hero in ‘His Majesty’s Temporary Bride’ is her cousin and actually makes an appearance a the end of that story!
Annie is giving away two signed copies of His Majesty’s Temporary Bride! (Open Internationally)
For you chance to win just comment with your answer…
Cat’s time in St Galla is one challenge after another. Learning to walk and talk like a princess. Trying to keep her true identity secret and not fall in love with her sister’s suitor! The final straw for this tomboy heroine is learning to waltz. Especially when Alex takes a hands-on role instructing her.
What’s one thing you’d love to learn but never had the time/opportunity/courage to try?
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
His Majesty’s Temporary Bride is the first book in Annie West’s The Princess Seductions series.
Cat Dubois grew up with a bully for a stepfather, she got away from him and her home as soon as she possibly could and trained in self-defence. She excelled at it and became a most sought-after bodyguard. It’s in that role that she is employed to be a body double for Princess Amelie who unknown to most is her half-sister. They look so alike that it will be easy for her to impersonate the Princess. She doesn’t understand why the Princess won’t attend a function that it’s vital she is present at, but Cat agrees to attend in her place.
King Alex has spent the few years since becoming King trying to fix huge mistakes his father had made while running the country. He could still do with a huge injection of money, but he’ll be damned if he is forced to marry somebody he doesn’t know in order to get that money. The function that Cat is to attend is the very one that Alex is supposed to attend in order to meet Princess Amelie who he is expected to propose to. He is pressured into attending the event where he will meet the Princess, but he has no intention of marrying her.
Cat has to spend a week at the palace with the hope that she can be taught enough deportment, royal etiquette and everything she needs to know in order to convince people that she is really the Princess. Early on after her arrival, she goes for a swim in the ocean only to end up having to save two boys whose canoe had capsized. She is helped with the rescue by Alex. Neither know who the other is, but one thing they do know is that they are immensely attracted to each other.
You can imagine Cat’s surprise when Alex arrives at the palace, days before the big event, and she learns that not only is he the King that Amelie is supposed to marry, but that he intends to stay in the palace rather than leave and return for the function. Their lust for each other is palpable, can they resist the temptation, what if Cat gives in but then later has to stand aside and watch the Princess marry him? Will she be able to give her body and possibly heart to Alex with him thinking she is somebody else?
This was such a fast-paced, fabulous story involving blackmail, deception, a lot of lust and steamy moments, all with the possibility of a fairytale ending. Both main characters have emotional baggage that they need to deal with, but it will be so much easier for them to manage that with each others’ help. I love how they both fought giving into their lustful urges, and the utter relief they both found in each others’ arms once they finally did. The story was intriguing, we were kept wondering ’til the last minute why the Princess fled the palace, and why the Prime Minister made it sound like Cat would just be attending a small function in Amelie’s place, rather than one that had much more significant connotations. This book definitely had all the ingredients for a story that I could not read fast enough to see what happened next.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.