When Gaby Conte’s Italian husband, Danieli, abandons her for a young Peruvian waitress at a restaurant they co-own in San Francisco, Gaby seeks refuge in Rome with her best friend Maria. There, she swears off romance for a long while and Italian men forever. That’s until she meets Silvio, who belongs to an old, aristocratic Roman family and lives in a palace alongside the best private art collection in Rome. Silvio, who is the cousin of Maria’s husband, is going through his own divorce. He’s gorgeous, of course, which Gaby doesn’t tell him. And arrogant and condescending, which she does. The last thing Gaby needs is more Italian trouble, but the attraction is instant and powerful, and against the backdrop of one of the world’s most romantic cities, both try—and fail—to resist the chemistry between them. But both Gaby and Silvio have made a rule never to make the mistake of trusting in love again. Will they realize some rules are made just to be broken.
Delfina, still sniffling, ventured off, but Silvio stayed standing next to Gaby. When she looked up at him, he leaned toward her, his masculine scent racing straight to her limbic brain. “I told Delfina that she should listen to your fashion advice.” He was so close Gaby could feel his breath feathering her neck and back. “Since you always look so good, that is.”
Gaby felt dizzy and she bit her lip. Her eyes closed, then opened and she turned to him. Their faces were only inches apart, those firm juicy lips of his so close, so tempting she just wanted to smash them against hers and sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Instead, she got up on tiptoe, cupped his ear sexily with her hand, and whispered, “So glad you noticed.”
Silvio’s head jerked up and back and, for a second, emotion fired his eyes, making them burn as fiercely as the desire that always seemed to flare unchecked between them. He swallowed hard, muttered a curse, and tugged at Gaby’s arm. “You’re all I notice, lately.” Then he strode back to his chair.
Gaby’s stupid heart skipped a beat and something hot and achy swelled inside her. She knew her cheeks were redder than roses right about now, and lowered herself carefully onto one of the store’s black sofas like a maiden aunt in need of her walker. She had to take a breath. Several breaths. This man did terrible things to her equilibrium. The way he made her feel alive, hungry, burning for his touch, terrified her. If she were in a Victorian novel, someone would be bringing her elderberry wine at this point, or fanning her with an opera program. But as it was, she had nothing except a bride who couldn’t stop crying, a saleswoman who couldn’t stop lying about how any dress in the store Delfina chose would put Amal Clooney’s to shame, and a man whose heated gaze and words raised her temperature so high she might just spontaneously combust and bury them all under a heap of Duchess satin.
Mandi Benet grew up in England and published her first piece of fiction when she was twelve. She’s been scribbling away ever since as an award-winning journalist— covering everything from the Democratic Convention to the Oscars for major American national newspapers and magazines — and as an author, writing women’s fiction and contemporary romance with rich, original characters. Mandi is a member of RWA National and the San Francisco branch of RWA.