The story of Caretti’s Forced Bride, which just came out this week in the U.S., consumed me for six months after my second baby was born.
Caretti’s Forced Bride is a secret baby story. So secret, in fact, that there’s no mention of it anywhere on the cover. It’s a twist you won’t discover until chapter two. But it’s so important, I thought you should know.
The idea of a mother giving up her own happiness to give her child a good future first occurred to me when, as a newborn, my baby was in intensive care with a respiratory illness. For a few days, I was a very scared mother and would have done anything, absolutely anything, to make him safe and healthy and happy.
He’s fine now—running around on chubby legs and laughing his joyful baby laugh and loudly screeching and kicking out his newly acquired skill, the Toddler Tantrum. But for those long hours at his bedside and the weeks after we brought him back home, I couldn’t stop thinking…
What would I do to protect him?
What would I sacrifice to give him a good life?
The answer is, I’d have been willing to do anything. Sacrifice my own happiness for his? You bet.
Princess Isabelle is no different. When she was barely eighteen, Isabelle—the most beautiful, adored princess in the world—fell in love with a poor Italian-American mechanic with a rough background. Her family forced the young couple apart, and then Isabelle discovered she was pregnant with his child. To hide the scandal, her beloved elder brother and his wife passed off the baby as their own. But ten years later, the adoptive parents are dead, and the little boy has been kidnapped. There’s only one man powerful and ruthless enough to help Isabelle...
Paolo Caretti, now a self-made billionaire, remembers Isabelle as the princess he loved in his naïve youth, the girl who mockingly scorned his offer of marriage. He despises her but never stopped wanting her. He agrees to help Isabelle find her nephew, but only if she is his one-night mistress. She agrees to his terms, but she's terrified. She’s never gotten over loving Paolo. And if he finds out the truth about their little boy--who's now king of Isabelle's country--their young son might lose everything.
I loved this story, written in bits of time stolen between midnight feedings, in that hazy half-awake, half-dreaming state that I'm sure all mothers can remember. Their story is ten years of hatred and passion set on fire, and my fingers burned as I wrote it.
One last thing. Thinking back on those first few weeks of my son’s life, I just have to say thank you to three writers, two of whom I've never even met. They wrote a Superromance anthology called Once Upon a Christmas in December 2006.
Sitting by my baby’s bedside those long hours in the hospital, listening to his ragged breathing and the constant beeps of the hospital equipment, with only the dull gray light of January seeping through the windows, this book was my escape. For a few hours, their stories helped me forget to be afraid. They made me feel like everything was going to be all right.
And it was.
Being a princess is never what it’s really cracked up to be, is it? Maybe if you’re seduced by the right prince... To learn more about Caretti’s Forced Bride, read the reviews, or get a quick, easy version of the fettuccine alfredo recipe Princess Isabelle learns to make in Rome, please visit www.jennielucas.com.