A royal wedding. A meddlesome mother. An unexpected union.
A European getaway during the Christmas holiday is exactly what veterinarian Katrina “Kat” Parsons needs. She can’t wait to be a bridesmaid in her childhood friend’s royal wedding, but she hopes to steer clear of the bride’s arrogant older brother.
Crown Prince Guillaume wants his younger sister’s wedding day to be perfect, but he’s suspicious of Kat. He and his mother on are on high alert, afraid Kat is not just there for the wedding, but also to find a prince of her own.
But when Kat’s kindness and generosity prove them wrong, the prince realizes there’s more to her than he ever imagined. Can he trust his heart or will he lose the one woman he can’t live without?
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The passenger door opened. Sophie climbed in, and Kat followed. The two women sat on the back bench together. Both were bundled in thick coats, hats, and gloves.
Sophie blew him a kiss. “Good morning, dear brother.”
The circles under Kat’s eyes were lighter. He couldn’t tell if that was due to sleep or makeup, but her face had more color.
Claude got into the driver’s seat and drove toward the gate.
He looked at his sister. “You’re late.”
“It couldn’t be helped.” Sophie glanced at her cell phone and frowned. “I would have been on time, early even, except I forgot the mistletoe.”
An excuse if he ever heard one. “Mistletoe?”
“To hang at the wedding ball and dinner.” She flashed him a don’t-you-know-anything look—the kind younger sisters knew how to do instinctively from the age of two. “You can’t have a Christmas-themed event without it.”
“Call the wedding planner.” He’d forgotten the latest one’s name.
Working with his mother wasn’t easy, but he felt sorry for the women having to deal with both the queen and the Duchess of Darbyton. Their demands had led to a revolving door of wedding planners. Only one—the first—had been fired. The rest had quit. He hoped this new one lasted until Sophie’s wedding day.
“Talia is speaking with the florist today to make a mistletoe plan.”
Talia. That was the name he’d forgotten. “You need a mistletoe plan?”
“Mistletoe is important,” Kat said.
She would think so. “Funny how people think kissing under mistletoe is romantic when the plant is not only poisonous, but also deadly. Certain types can kill you.”
Sophie made another face at him. “No one will be ingesting the mistletoe.”
“Just kissing under it,” Kat agreed.
Nodding, Sophie touched her friend’s arm. “I’m going to find you the most scrumptious man to kiss at the wedding ball.”
Kat must have asked Sophie for help. He would put an end to it. “Sorry, but I pass.”
“I said scrumptious, not beastly,” Sophie teased.
The idea of Kat kissing a man—make that a royal—left a sour taste in Gill’s mouth. With the free-flowing champagne at the wedding ball, a kiss could easily turn into something more. Kat could be a seducer, but what if someone took advantage of her instead? This had disaster written all over it.
“Have anyone else in mind?” he asked.
“Not yet.” Sophie looked at Kat. “Any requirements?”
Kat shrugged. “Not really.”
Gill wasn’t buying it. “Come on.”
“It’s been so long since I’ve dated that I wouldn’t know where to start,” she said.
Sophie tsked. “You need to work fewer hours and get out more.”
“I did meet someone who fell for me fast,” Kat said.
Knew it. His confidence that he was correct about Kat soared. “Who?”
“A two-year-old Doberman Pincher named Felix,” she joked. “And because of that, I think I might have some requirements about who I’d like to kiss.”
Of course she did. Gill could imagine what they would be—royal title, wealthy, and a marriageable age.
“What?” Sophie asked.
Kat held up three fingers. “Human male, single, and over the age of eighteen.”
“Several wedding guests fit those criteria,” Sophie said.
Kat seemed to be setting the bar low. Gill wondered why. “Don’t you want to kiss a royal?”
“Any man will do,” Kat answered.
She sounded believable, but why kiss a commoner when royals would be available? He would play along for now. “So you’re not picky when it comes to men?”
“It’s one kiss with a stranger,” Kat replied. “For fun.”
“What part of holiday tradition don’t you understand, Your Serene Highness?” Sophie’s words came out sharply, as if each were punctuated with a period. If she was trying to hide her frustration, she wasn’t doing a good job. “Pickiness is not required, but my advice to Kat would be to stay away from men who would be king. They are far too much trouble.”
Gill wasn’t offended since he had no interest in kissing Kat under the mistletoe or anywhere else, but a woman could do much worse than a future king. “You’re assuming those men would want a mistletoe kiss.”
Sophie stuck out her tongue at him.
“Your brother has a point,” Kat said to his surprise. “Some royals won’t be interested in a commoner like me.”
Gill found himself nodding. “Exactly.”
“However, that didn’t seem to bother certain princes in Great Britain, Denmark, and Spain,” Kat added.
Her smile was half-smirk, half-smile.
“You’ve done your research.” The fact she knew what princes had married commoners suggested she was on a hunt for a royal. Sophie should see that, too. “Scouting the field?”
About the Author:
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.