Claimed by the prince
For Christmas or forever?
Sicilian chambermaid Antonietta prides herself on her discretion, so she’s mortified by her inappropriate reaction to her hotel’s newest guest! Antonietta has no idea Rafael is the notorious prince of Tulano. All she knows is that his touch lights her up more brightly than a Christmas tree.
Their unexpected connection floors cynical Rafe. All he can offer is a temporary festive seduction before resuming his royal duties. But unwrapping the precious gift of Antonietta’s virginity changes everything. Rafe must choose—his crown, or Antonietta…
What I love
Secret Prince’s Christmas Seduction by Carol Marinelli is set in romantic, pictouresque Sicily. I love that this book is a Harlequin Presents. In a Presents novel, the stories are set in glamorous locations and have these unbelievably romantic alpha male heroes. This story checks all of those boxes for me.
After standing up her groom on her wedding day and running away from home, Antonietta is back to try and make amends with her family. Her parents have shunned her after she refused to marry in an arranged marriage to a cousin!! (methinks she did the right thing by running away) who was not very nice, for better lack of words. Chaos ensues at the wedding. After running away, a fight breaks out at the church. (As an aside, the book’s fight scene reminded me of the fight scene the extended members of the Spanish Royal Family had at the wedding of the current king, King Felipe.)
Unfortunately, her parents refuse to accept the olive branch, even though it is the Christmas season. Instead of leaving town again, Antonietta takes a job at a luxury hotel where she works as a cleaner while training as a therapist. She feels lonely and surrounds herself with her co-workers and makes them her family. I love that this book has a little bit of a Cinderella theme.
Antonietta hopes her parents will come around. In the meantime, she is hard at work. This is where she meets one of the guests, Rafe, who is recuperating after an accident. He seems to be annoyed with everyone except for Antonietta who has no idea of his royal identity. Rafe notices that she doesn’t seem to be enamored with his status and title (but that’s because she doesn’t know his true identity) and he finds her intriguing.
In his own way, Rafe begins to court her. Even though he has a bit of a grumpy demeanor, I found Rafe sweet and romantic. I love how he swept Antonietta off her feet.
I’ve read Carol Marinelli’s books before. Her scenes are so descriptive that I can almost hear the crashing of the ocean waves during Rafe’s walks. And in one scene, when Antonietta applies red lipstick, I pictured a MAC lipstick.
Rafe is supposed to marry a lady of his family’s choosing, someone with noble blood. This is the obstacle they must overcome. It was heart-wrenching to read these scenes because Antonietta gives up on love and on Rafe and thinks herself destined to be without him. But just when we think that’s the case, Rafe defies his parents and goes after the woman he loves. It is quite a roller coaster of emotions.
What I don’t love
I wish it had a longer, more detailed epilogue. I just wasn’t ready to leave this Harlequin Presents world behind.
A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley, but opinions are entirely my own. Since I love to read and then write about what I read, I thought it would be nice to sign up for NetGalley. Thank you so much for reading my blog.
First image via Pexels.com. Second image via Harlequin.com.