Alessandra Ranieri is forced to adopt a name that isn't really hers, when she returns to Monterra to claim an inheritance...that isn't really hers. She's certain that her Romany grandmother left her the property nestled in the foothills of the Monterran Alps.
Raul Forli, heir to the dukedom of Forli, is determined to unmask Alessandra's masquerade. He knows she's lying. More importantly, he needs the same property she's claiming and he's sure that his need is more desperate than hers. Because the duke is not all he seems, either. And he's got nothing to lose.
This battle will be fiercely waged.
Not in a court of law.
But in the hearts of Alessandra and her fairy-tale duke.
A shadow darkened the air above Alessandra. Raul. He must have seen her fall and skied over. He was stepping out of his skis, flinging away his poles, and in general looking and behaving like a crazy man. Her giggles intensified. What was he planning to do?
He yanked off his helmet and knelt down on one knee beside her. “Alessandra—”
At the moment he spoke her name, he seemed to notice she was alive and well. He frowned down at her. “What in hell is so funny?”
“I fell.” She laughed up at him. “Serves me right.”
“Probably,” he growled. He was still kneeling over her, his brow furrowed. “What the hell happened? You should have been able to handle that. You had a great lift off.”
“I was watching you!” She laughed again at the surprise on his face. “Lost my concentration—”
Slowly, as if it took a moment for her admission to sink in, he smiled. “I guess I can’t complain about that.”
“You’d better not, you ungrateful wretch.” Without thinking, she lifted a handful of powdery snow and flung it at him. He ducked just in time, but a few white flakes landed in his dark hair, sparkling.
“Why you—” He leaned over her, picked up his own fistful of snow and held it over her. “You don’t want to challenge a champion snowball thrower.”
“Champion? Is there an Olympics for that sport in Monterra?”
“I don’t know about that,” he admitted. He shook a few snowflakes down onto her red jacket, threatening her. “But that was my title in third grade.”
“Oooh, I’m scared—” She laughed up at him again, loving the moment of lying here in the snow with this handsome man looking down at her, the sun shining around him, and his broad shoulders filling her world. It was a once in a lifetime moment. She felt her laughter die as he stared, his expression changing—from mock threatening laughter —to lust. The heat in his eyes scorched her, wiping out the laughter.
He was going to kiss her. He held her gaze, his eyes gleaming, as he leaned down, shaking off one glove, and then the other. The handful of snow fell to the ground, forgotten.
“Alessandra,” he murmured in a low, intimate voice. He placed one hand on her cheek, his fingers cold on the outside, but warm within. “You look like a Christmas present.”
“Not something glittery and fake, I hope?” She couldn’t shake the knowledge that he thought she was living under a false name in Monterra, masquerading as someone she was not.
“No.” He shook his head slightly, a half-smile on his lips. “Something sparkly and fun. Something unexpected.” His voice went even lower. “Something I want to unwrap.”
Available only on Amazon (since it's in Kindle World) here.
Here's a picture of the type of house found in Monterra.