Author: Jennifer St George
Sweet Seduction brings together two heartwarming romance novellas in one convenient volume. I was half expecting there to be some connection between the two stories but there is not, except they are both set amongst some gorgeous scenery and the characters are not ordinary everyday people.
The Convenient Bride begins in Melbourne with hotelier Sienna De Luca trying to work out how she is going to save her family’s hotel from falling into the hands of ruthless Italian businessman and international hotelier Antonio Moretti. In a purely business proposal which could stand to see both Antonio and Sienna gain the hotels that mean the world to them Sienna agrees to a marriage of convenience with Antonio, as long as the contract has specific clauses excluding intimacy beyond what is required to make their union seem genuine.
Sienna’s family own a five star hotel in Melbourne but it is in desperate need of renovations and the loan that her father took out with Moretti is about ti be called in, and the next inspection will definitely see her losing stars. She knows that she can make the hotel profitable and get the loan paid she just needs more time. The Plaza is the one and only hotel of the De Luca’s and they pride themselves on the heart instilled in the hotel because it is a family business that’s been in the family for generations. Allowing it to fall into Moretti’s hands and become another in his chain of hotels across the world would strip the hotel of its heart and its old world charm, Sienna can’t bear to let it happen.
Knowing it could well be futile Sienna agrees to Antonio’s proposal but isn’t sure how they will pull it off. She’s just an average Melbourne girl trying to save the family business, there’s nothing extraordinary about her and Antonio has been linked to the gorgeous, wealthy and famous – who will ever believe he would settle for someone as plain and ordinary as her.
There was actually quite a lot of potential in this one. Sienna was, I think, a little stereotypical. She’s the plain girl next door until you take her out of her natural environment and make her over in designer goods to make her breathtaking, yet she’s always aware that this isn’t her natural environment and fears she could never fit into Antonio’s world. The wedding she always wanted is kicked to the curb because it won’t fit with what the paparazzi need to see, she doesn’t get to wear her mums wedding dress, or have anyone close to her present but that really shouldn’t matter considering it’s only a fake wedding…
Antonio epitomises the emotionally unavailable, sexy, philandering CEO who always gets what he wants, when he wants. Sienna can see glimpses of something behind that thick facade and every now and then in an unguarded moment she can see there is more to Antonio than what he would have the world believe – BUT is it worth it?
Next up is Seducing The Secret Heiress which sees two strangers meeting on the beach in Italy under traumatic circumstances. Charlotte, known to many as Charlie, saves Amelia from drowning on the beach and then comforts her younger brother Rupert. She ends up heading into the hospital with them and Uncle Gabe because Rupert is distraught and Charlie’s presence seems to calm him.
Charlie is on the run from her life in Australia, her wealthy and cheating fiance as well as her family. She is the heiress to Wentworth diamonds and less than valued by her parents, largely because she wasn’t a son. The most value she can be to her family is as part of a business deal and she was totally taken in by the act, unsure what to do next she escapes to Europe – telling no-one where she’s gone. It seems everyone knew this arrangement was business except Charlotte and she is expected to fall into line, marry the sleaze, pop out some kids and then do whatever she wants as long as she’s discreet.
Charlie is well known at home and is used to things being different as soon as people discover who she is so when Gabe asks her name she goes with the first thing that comes to mind, hoping for a couple of days anonymity.
Gabe is a big name in his native country too so he is happy to remain anonymous a little while as well, being the owner of a production company making hit reality television he is used to being swarmed by everyone who wants to be the next big thing. Gabe too takes his time coming clean about what he does, he is still recovering from the last affair with a social climber who had the riches but wanted all the fame Gabe could bring her and she isn’t finished with him yet. She has certainly jaded him to women and made him wary of getting involved with anyone, who wants a repeat performance of that.
It isn’t long before Gabe comes clean but Charlie begins to really like the new her, she likes achieving things on her own merits, and she lets many opportunities pass her by to tell Gabe who she really is. As time passes Charlie digs herself deeper, she loves being Charlie but to remain Charlie she needs to keep telling half truths and lying by omission to stop from being caught out and it’s a tangled web she will find very difficult to extricate herself from if it all comes crashing down.
I enjoyed this story and I loved the exotic locations, as well as some of the delicious dishes Charlie was making, but it just doesn’t strike me as being feasible in the real world.
These stories were both beautiful romances, fraught with tension and lots of build up to consummation without a lot of actual bedroom scenes. The stories are about the romance, the getting to know one another, the deepening of an instant rapport. I would have liked to read both of these as full length novels and gotten to know the characters a little better.