From Cinderella to royal bride!
Christina Rose secretly longs for a fairy-tale wedding, but her betrothal to Prince Antonio of Halencia was just a ruse to prevent a royal scandal!
Now the press can't get enough of this Cinderella princess, but Christina's still waiting for the clock to strike midnight on their arrangement. It may have started out purely for convenience, yet now that their wedding is upon them, dare she hope that Prince Antonio has more than just "I do" to say…but "I love you," as well?
Sweet Cinderella type story. Christina became friends with Antonio's sister Elena when the two girls were teenagers at boarding school. Christina was often included when Antonio would come to visit his sister and they would all do things together. Christina developed quite the crush on Antonio. She and Elena remained friends as adults and it was Christina that Elena called when she was in trouble. Antonio and Christina came up with the idea of a fake engagement to take the heat off Elena.
Four years later they are still engaged, as the country has embraced Christina as their future queen. The book opens on their wedding day, as Christina is wishing that it was real. She is moved when Antonio takes the trouble to find one of her family heirloom pins and delivers it to wear on her gown. At the same time, Antonio is worried that Christina is unhappy about the marriage and feels very guilty about her being stuck with it. He is determined to do everything he can to make her happy.
Antonio and Christina had spent little time together over the past four years, thanks to her charity work in Africa and his business interests in America. So he was stunned when he saw her coming toward him in the chapel. Then the words "you may kiss your bride" put the final nail in his coffin, as unexpected heat flared between them. I loved the way they couldn't keep their eyes off each other during the reception, which boded well for their future.
Though Antonio's parents don't have the best reputations, they put together a surprise honeymoon for Antonio and Christina, away from all outside distractions. After an honest conversation with each other, both agreed that they need to take the time to get to know each other in order to make their marriage work. I loved seeing their relationship develop against the beautiful backdrop of Tahiti. Each hour seemed to bring some memory of their youthful times together to the present, cementing the idea that they really do have much in common. I also loved seeing Antonio's appreciation of Christina's mind as well as her beauty, and the effect it had on her. Christina had been ignored and demeaned growing up, especially by her father, so Antonio's attitude is a welcome change. I also loved how Christina supported Antonio's plans for the future of the country. He worries so much about their people and their future.
They have just started to enjoy each other when a crisis calls them back home. Elena's past has become news, as has the background of Antonio and Christina's marriage. There are a lot of accusations and wild stories being thrown around, and they must find a way to deal with them. To make matters worse, Christina's father shows up and says some things to her that make her question her future with Antonio. I ached for Christina as she tried to do what she believed was right for him and the country. Antonio had so much he had to deal with on top of his worry about her. I loved his big moment at the end, as he showed Christina just how important she is to him.
This was a story that had all of the depth of emotion and heat of attraction that is expected in a romance, yet has a gentle "fade to black" when it comes to the details. That did not detract from the story at all, but in some ways made it more intense.