Holiday with the Best Man

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Cherish

April 2016

ISBN 9780373743827

 

Harlequin Romance

April 2016

ISBN: 9780373743827

The moment has come when best man Roland Devereux must follow the bride and groom and dance with bridesmaid Grace Faraday. But as he takes her hand, the chemistry hits him. For the first time since he lost his wife, he lets his guard down.

Roland can see that gorgeous wallflower Grace deserves to be swept off her feet. He makes a deal—he'll give her a two-week whirlwind holiday, and Grace will help him learn to date again. Except somewhere between Paris and Venice, Roland realises two weeks with Grace will never be enough…

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (April 2016, ISBN 9780263264029)
  • UK large print hardback (Date and ISBN tbc)
  • Also released in Australian paperback (April 2016, ISBN: tbc).

 


Behind the Book

This is the second in the Billionaires of London duo about the Faraday sisters and the men they fall in love with, who happen to be best friends.

At her fiancé's parents' 50th wedding anniversary, Grace realises she's sleepwalking into a marriage she doesn't want - what she really wants is to be swept off her feet. Meanwhile Roland, who's feeling guilty over the secret he can never tell, is forced to come to the rescue of a woman he thinks he loathes.

Except he discovers that Grace is nothing like who he thinks she is. And he thinks it's time he comes out of mourning and joins the real world again. So he strikes a deal with Grace: for two weeks, he'll sweep her off her feet and she can help him brush up his dating skills.

What neither of them expects is that they'll fall in love with each other. But is Roland really ready to love again? And can Grace get her trust back?

There are bits of some of my favourite parts of Europe in the book - Paris and Venice - and I have to admit that their English dates are all on my personal wish list.

Anyway. I hope that you enjoy my unexpected groom (my original working title) and get just as swept off your feet by Roland as Grace is!

Read a bit

PROLOGUE

Roland's face actually ached from smiling, but he knew he had to keep it up. Apart from the fact that it was his best friend's wedding day – and of course Roland was delighted that Hugh had found the love of his life – he also knew that half the guests were remembering that Roland's wife had been killed in a car accident nearly two years ago, and were worrying that he was finding it hard to cope with today.

As he'd said to Hugh at the altar, today had brought back good memories of his own wedding day. Roland just hoped that Hugh and Bella would have a lot more years of happiness together than he and Lynette had had – and none of the misery that they'd both kept secret, even from their family and their closest friends.

He knew he ought to make the effort to go and dance with the chief bridesmaid. Even though Hugh had opted to have two best men, and Tarquin – the other best man – was dancing with Bella's sister right now, Roland knew that he couldn't use that as an excuse to avoid dancing. If he didn't dance with Grace, everyone would assume that it was because he was thinking of Lynette, and the last thing he wanted right now was another dose of pity. He'd had more than enough of that after the crash.

One dance. He could do that. All he had to do was ignore the fact that the ballroom in the Elizabethan manor house was full of fairy lights, creating the most romantic mood. And to ignore his misgivings about the chief bridesmaid, because it wasn't his place to judge her – even though the little he knew about her pressed all the wrong buttons. Grace had been so drunk, the first time she'd met Hugh, that she'd thrown up over him in the taxi; plus she'd cancelled her wedding at the last minute. Sure, everyone had an off-day or made mistakes: but to Roland it sounded as if Grace was a spoiled, princessy drunk.

And a spoiled, princessy drunk had shattered Roland's life with her selfishness, nearly two years ago. Having to be nice to a woman like that for even a few minutes really stuck in his craw. But he'd do it for his best friend's sake. His best friend who, even now, was dancing with his bride – and Roland was pretty sure that the glow around Hugh and Bella was due to more than just the fairy lights. This was real happiness.

Which left him to man up and do his duty. Right now Grace looked perfectly demure in her dark red bridesmaid's dress with its ballerina skirt and sweetheart neckline, and she was even wearing flat shoes rather than spindly heels so she didn't tower over the bride. Though her dark hair was in a sophisticated updo with wisps of hair curled into ringlets that framed her face – a seriously high-maintenance style – and her eyelashes had most definitely been enhanced. So maybe Roland was right about the princessy tendencies. And even Tarquin – who saw the good in everyone – had admitted that Grace was nothing like sweet, bubbly little Bella.

One dance, he reminded himself. Do your duty, and don't let your best friend down.

At the end of the song, he walked over to Grace and Tarquin. 'As the other best man, I believe the next dance is meant to be mine,' he said, forcing himself to keep smiling.

'It is indeed,' Tarquin said, and clapped him on the shoulder. 'See you later, Grace.'

'See you later, Tarquin,' she echoed, then turned to Roland. 'I don't think we've been properly introduced yet. I'm Bella's sister, Grace. You're Roland, aren't you?'

'Yes.'

'Nice to meet you.' She held out her hand to shake his.

Thinking, oh, please, just hurry up and let us get this over with, Roland took her hand and shook it. And he was truly shocked to find a prickle of awareness running down his spine.

Close up, Grace Faraday had the most incredible eyes: a deep cornflower blue. Her mouth was a perfect cupid's bow. Her complexion was fresh, almost dewy. And there was something that drew him to her. Something that made him feel protective.

And that really threw him.

Based on what he'd heard from the two people whose opinion he trusted most in the world, Roland had expected to dislike the woman. Instead, he found himself attracted to her. Attracted to someone he'd been sure was the last woman he'd ever want to date. And he really didn't know what to do about it.

'It was a lovely wedding, wasn't it?' Grace said. 'And that song Hugh wrote for Bella – that was amazing.'

'Mmm,' Roland said, too confused to string a coherent sentence together, and gave her his best attempt at a smile.

***

Grace was shocked by how different Hugh's two best friends were. Tarquin had been sweet and funny and she'd felt really comfortable with him; Roland was taciturn to the point of making Grace feel awkward and shy, the way she usually was with strangers.

It didn't help that she'd felt a weird prickle of awareness when he'd shaken her hand. By any standards, Roland was good-looking, and the tailcoat, dark trousers, dark red waistcoat and matching cravat he wore emphasised it even more. His dark hair was brushed back from his forehead and his slightly olive skin was clean-shaven. He could've been a model for a wedding suit company, and Grace wasn't sure if she found that more attractive or intimidating.

Maybe if she treated this as work – if she was professional and sensible with him, the way she'd be with a client – they could get through this dance without it being a total disaster.

Not having a clue what to say to him, she went through the motions of dancing with him and really hoped that pinning a smile to her face would be enough to get her through the next song. Just as well she'd talked Bella into letting her wear flat shoes; if she'd worn heels, she would probably have tripped over Roland's feet and made a complete and utter fool of herself.

Though it felt odd to be dancing with someone who was six inches taller than she was. Howard, her ex-fiancé, had been five foot eight, so she'd always worn flat shoes to make him feel less self-conscious about the fact that she was the same height as he was. Roland was broad-shouldered, where Howard had been slight. Being in his arms made Grace feel petite and feminine – something she wasn't used to. She was sensible, no-nonsense, and way too tall to be treated as if she was fragile.

She noticed that Roland's dark eyes were watchful. Why did he look so wary? Grace wondered.

Then she realised with a sinking heart just why she was feeling so awkward with him: because Roland was looking at her in exactly the same way that Howard's mother always had. Rather than smiling back at her, his lips were thinned. It was pretty clear that he'd judged her and decided that she wasn't quite good enough.

No wonder he wasn't chatting to her, the way Tarquin had. The guy clearly disliked her – even though he'd never met her before.

Well, that was his problem. She'd be polite and dance with him to this song, fulfilling their duty as the chief bridesmaid and the best man. Then she'd make sure she stayed out of his way for the rest of the evening, spending her time with her parents and Hugh's family.

And as for that weird prickle of awareness just now – well, that was just how weddings made everyone feel. Especially a glitzy wedding like this one, held in the grounds and ballroom of a manor house that had been in Hugh's family for generations. Yet behind the glamour was a warm-hearted, loving family who adored Grace's bubbly, slightly unconventional baby sister for who she was. And Grace had seen Roland hugging Bella earlier – with a proper smile on his face – so clearly he liked Grace's sister.

But this taciturn, slightly forbidding man clearly wasn't going to extend that warmth to Grace. And she absolutely refused to let it get to her. Why should his opinion of her matter? She didn't know anything about him, other than that he was Hugh's other best friend from school and was a sleeping partner in Hugh's record label. But, even if Roland was single, he was the last man Grace would even consider dating. She wasn't going to repeat her mistake with Howard. The next man she dated would be one who made her heart skip a beat and who'd sweep her off her feet. Someone who'd make her feel good about herself.

Which meant absolutely not Roland whatever-his-name-was.

Even if he was one of the most good-looking men she'd ever met.

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