Hired:The Italian's Bride

By: Donna Alward

“Kiss me, Mariella.”





Their gazes held for a second. Luca was waiting for her, she realized. He understood she’d been hurt and he was letting her make the first move. It was unexpected. She was used to him bossing her around. Now he was giving her the power, and it made him even more difficult to resist.

She leaned into his hand, tilted up her face, and with her heart in her throat touched her lips to his. The connection between them was so strong it rocked her core.

For the first time since leaving her old life behind, she threw caution to the wind, wrapping her arms around his torso and pulling him closer.

The moment she did it, everything changed.





Dear Reader,

For nearly twelve years I lived in Alberta, Canada, with my husband and children. My mom would come to visit us annually, and her visit always included a trip to the Rocky Mountains and, more often than not, lunch at the fabulously decadent Banff Springs Hotel. I always thought there was something magical about it. It’s perched at the pinnacle of town, a great stone castle looking up at Cascade Mountain and down the Bow River Valley. The food is excellent, the atmosphere even better. When I thought of putting a heroine somewhere to reclaim her life, the townsite of Banff simply fitted the bill.

Of course I needed a hotel, and a to-die-for-handsome hero. I found him in Italian Luca Fiori. Luca is heir to the Fiori hotel empire, and is sent to Banff to oversee the newest company acquisition, the Fiori Cascade. The Cascade is a place for relaxation and rejuvenation, for a bit of decadence and specialness. Luca says it is to “remember the romance.”

As I write this letter, I’ve just returned home from a wedding…my mom’s wedding. After she spent many years on her own, I couldn’t be happier that she “remembered the romance” and that she and her new husband “found” each other—again. Nearly sixty years ago they dated as teenagers…and now here they are, newlyweds. By the time this book hits the shelves, they will be getting close to celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

Maybe there’s magic in the number sixty. Because this year Harlequin is celebrating its sixtieth birthday. It’s so very special to me both as an author and as a Canadian to be part of Harlequin’s tradition of outstanding romance fiction.

Why not celebrate Harlequin’s diamond birthday with me? I’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at [email protected]

With my very best wishes,

Donna







For Mum and Harold





A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters and the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. An avid reader since childhood, Donna always made up her own stories. She completed her arts degree in English literature in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she penned her first full-length novel and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript, and now writes warm, emotional stories for the Harlequin Romance line.



Donna loves being back on the east coast of Canada—and in her new home office in Nova Scotia—after nearly twelve years in Alberta, where she began her career writing about cowboys and the West. Donna’s debut novel for the Harlequin Romance series, Hired by the Cowboy, was awarded the Booksellers Best Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Romance.



With the Atlantic Ocean only minutes from her doorstep, Donna has found a fresh take on life and promises even more great romances in the near future!



Donna loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through her Web site at www.donnaalward.com or visit her MySpace page at www.myspace.com/dalward.





In November, queen of the rugged rancher Patricia Thayer and sparkling new talent Donna Alward team up to bring you an extraspecial Christmas treat—two stories in one volume for double the romance!

Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage

Join sisters Amelia and Kelley for Christmas at Rocking H Ranch, where these feisty cowgirls swap presents for proposals, mistletoe for marriage, and experience the unbeatable rush of falling in love.





CHAPTER ONE





“MS. ROSS? Mr. Fiori has arrived.”

He was here.

“Thank you, Becky. Show him in.”

Mari ran a hand over her already smooth hair, trying hard not to resent a man she’d never met. Luca Fiori, golden son of the Fiori Resort empire. Rich, powerful, and according to her online research, a bit of a playboy.

Just what she—and the hotel—needed. Not.

She could just make out the sound of his voice, smooth and warm, coming from the reception area. The sound sent a flutter through her tummy. Becky would be bringing him back any moment. Perhaps she should go out to meet him. Yes, that would probably be the genial, professional thing to do. But her feet wouldn’t move. Instead she turned her head to both sides, assessing the office as if through a stranger’s eyes. Her new office, though she couldn’t help feeling a bit of an interloper. What Fiori needed to see was a woman confident in her new position. Even if she wasn’t, she had to give that appearance. She made sure everything was in its place. Not a speck of dust or scrap of paper. Everything had to be perfect. The only thing that revealed she’d even been there that morning was her mug, half-full of cold tea, a faint half-moon of lipstick marring the cream-colored ceramic.

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