Dear Reader,

One of my favourite things as a writer is being able to take my character’s well-ordered existence and turn it on its head. Especially when love becomes the biggest complication.

I’m kind of a routine sort of person myself, and hate feeling out of control. I like to have all my ducks in a row, I like to know what I’m doing in the present and organize what’s coming up in the future. And every now and then something will throw a kink into my plans and I’ll be at a complete loss, scrambling to pick up the pieces.

That’s what happens to Mariella Ross, the heroine in my new release, Hired: The Italian’s Bride. Mariella is the new GM at the Fiori Cascade Hotel, a luxury resort in the heart of beautiful Banff, Alberta. She’s made her life there just the way she wants it. Quiet, planned out, and completely her own.

But when the hotel owner, gorgeous Luca Fiori arrives to oversee the refurbishment, everything Mariella “knows” is out the window. Suddenly things are changing – including her feelings – and everything becomes complicated. Luca is a force all his own, seductive, competent, charismatic, and most dangerous of all – compassionate. And it’s this compassion that has the power to break past all her barriers to the fear she holds deep in her heart.

I’ll admit, I cried lots of tears for Mari when I wrote this book, watching her come of out the darkness of her past into the bright possibility of her future. I hope it touches readers in some small way as well.

Most of all, I loved how Mari comes to realize that nothing will be the same ever again.

It will be even better.

With Love,

Donna



Excerpt from Hired: The Italian's Bride

© Donna Alward

“Mari? Dance?”

Mari stared at Luca’s extended palm. Could she? The scene was eerily close to her musings just before she’d dozed off in the limo. But now, faced with reality, her stomach twisted in knots at the thought of being held so closely in his arms. She wanted to dance, she discovered. But she didn’t trust herself to handle it. Not when the mere thought of Robert caused the trembling to start. The last thing she wanted to do was have the proximity of his body trigger her panic. For once, she was unsure of her own reaction and she hesitated.

“Go on, Mari, dance. Luca’s actually a very good dancer.” Gina narrowed her eyes at her brother. “But if you repeat that, I’ll deny it.”

Mari let out a breath and carefully put her hand in Luca’s as she rose from her chair. Immediately she felt the warmth of his hand radiate up her arm. “I suppose I could dance, once.”

He led her to the dim floor. Her heels echoed on the parquet and he turned, pulling her gently into his arms. She felt like she was in a dream. Gone was the Luca of before, the man of casual flair, of style and flirtation. In his place was a gentleman. He seemed to know how she felt about touching and kept a polite distance between them. Knowing he did it out of respect for her drew her to him in ways that his innate charm never could. Even so, one hand was warm at her waist, and he cupped her right hand within his, a perfect fit.

He was dashing tonight, dressed in a dark suit, his tie precisely knotted, his hair slicked back, reminiscent of the golden age days he so wanted the hotel to represent. The song was slow and jazzy, the singer’s voice smooth and rich like melted caramel. Luca’s arm cradled her waist as he lifted their joined hands close to his shoulder. “Relax,” he whispered, and their feet started to move to the music.

Unlike when he danced with Gina, now Luca didn’t say a word. Mari swallowed, closing her eyes and letting the music in, guiding her feet around the intimate floor. Their steps grew lazy and Mari drew his scent in, that expensive, man-scent that she knew she’d always recognize as his. Their bodies were closer now than before, and the trembling in her body wasn’t fear. Perhaps it was, she thought, but not fear of her safety.

Fear of Luca and the way he made her feel. Because he was making her feel things she’d never wanted to feel at all. Vulnerable. Wanting, dear lord. Wanting to give a part of herself to him, rather than closet it away.

His hips swayed against hers and she longed to rest her cheek against the fabric of his dinner jacket. His hand slid up her back, leaving a warm trail in its wake. This then, was what it felt like to feel cherished.

Breath caught in her throat. She’d felt safe once before only to have it go very wrong. As much as her heart told her she was safe with Luca, she couldn’t be sure. Couldn’t take that risk. She couldn’t survive it again.

It was very good he was a short-term complication.

The music ended and Luca pulled away. “Let’s walk.”

“But Gina...”

“Gina is gone.”

His voice was warm in her ear and goosebumps erupted on her skin. She jerked her head to look back at their table, but he was right. It was empty, save for the remnants of their dessert.

He took her hand and led her to the balcony doors. As they stepped outside, the cool autumn air assaulted them and Mari welcomed it. It would clear her head. This was crazy.

The music was muted as Luca shut the doors behind them. Mari walked to the railing, resting against the sandstone and looking down over the valley. The moonshine glittered over the winding river.

“Why did Gina leave? I thought she was enjoying herself.”

Luca’s voice came, deep and smooth, from behind her. “I believe she thought we could use some time alone.”

Everything in her dropped to her feet.

“Luca, I don’t think this is a good idea.” The words came out strangled, shaky.

“I know it’s not.”

She turned her head at his response. Having him admit it was wrong somehow made it all the more tempting. He was standing a few feet behind her, so tall and strong with the façade of the hotel behind him.

“Then what are we doing?”

“I brought you out here because...” He paused.

“Because...” Her voice was a fairy whisper...

Amazon Barnes & Noble eHarlequin ebook



Contest!

Donna wants readers to share in her celebration of her latest release. She's hosting a contest just for you! For a chance to enter, just visit Donna’s website and find the answer to the following question –

What is the title of Donna's November 2009 release?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with the answer and be sure to include your full name and mailing address in the email. Do make sure you email your answers only to staff@authorsoundrelations.com or your entry will not be counted!

Three winners will be contacted after June 15th.  The first winner will receive a book from Donna's backlist and a $25 giftcard from Barnes & Noble.  Two more winners will each receive a book from Donna's backlist! Good luck!

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