Monday, July 21, 2008

Caretti's Forced Bride

By Jennie Lucas

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.

So thank you, Brenda Novak, Anna Adams and Melinda Curtis. I’ll never forget it.

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


kimmyl said...

Jennie, I had read an excerpt of Caretti's Forced Bride on one the blogs that I visit. I loved it. I just bought it yesterday from Barnes and Noble. That's the great part the bad part is that it will not be shipped to me until Aug. 1. I cannot wait to read it.

Aideen said...

Hi Jennie,

So nice to see you here today. I can't wait to get stuck into this story, I'm sure its going to be read in one sitting, much like TGBBR!
Your post really struck a chord with me because as a mother there is nothing I wouldn't do to ensure the safety and happiness of my little ones. It would never be a case 'what' to sacrifice, it would be 'when' to sacrifice if such a thing were called upon.
And what you said about romance getting you through those dark and lonely times? How true is that?
When my third son was six weeks old he was admitted to hospital. Little did we know it would be seven lonely weeks before we could bring him home again. Having a 3 year old and 7 year old made it so much harder. But as baby was so small, after 2 weeks of sleeping on a mattress in his tiny cubicle the nurses insisted we stay by day, go home at night. It broke my heart every evening to leave but the other boys needed me too.
When things were settled down at night and I had rang the hospital 20, 30 times (yeah, I know, panic is a terrible thing)to make sure baby was good I'd grab a book and escape for a few precious hours.
I didn't read Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy. I chose books that would allow me to feel happiness, love and most of all, a happy ending. Yes, I chose romance.
I read so many I can't remember who wrote them but I can and still do remember the feeling of being able to forget, if only for a little while.
Thank heavens for romance writers around the world. Bringing some sunshine when we so desperately need it.
Great post,


Jennie Lucas said...

Kimmyl, thanks for letting me know you got the book! I'm glad you liked the excerpt. I forgot to mention in my blog post that there's an excerpt on my website too--one that's taken from the end of Chapter One.

I've heard Caretti's Forced Bride is already starting to appear on shelves, so hopefully B&N will send the book to you early! I recently ordered a book ("Bound to Please," Hope Tarr's new historical for Blaze) from amazon that was supposed to be on pre-order, but it ended up being shipped almost immediately.

Thanks so much for saying you loved the excerpt. I hope you enjoy the story and love Paolo and Isabelle like I did. :)

Emily said...

Hi Jennie -- GREAT storyline. I can't wait to read it. Your comment about doing anything for your baby? You betcha. Anything. Sometimes when I go in to peek at her at night when she is sleeping I am overwhelmed. It totally eclipses any frustration I may have had with her during her two-and-a-half year old tantrums during the day. I am so sorry you had to experience the fear of your child in danger. No one should have to deal with that. So glad he pulled through.

--Emily Cotler

Jennie Lucas said...


It's great to see you here too. I'm so sorry your baby was sick. My son was in the hospital for less than a week (he had RSV, the respiratory illness that often strikes newborns and preemies in winter), and it was so awful. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for you to have him in the hospital for seven weeks. You have all my sympathy. He's all right now, isn't he???? I'm assuming he's all right???

It's certainly a challenge to take care of one sick child when there are older children as well. My oldest wasn't even two yet, and she needed me. It was difficult to manage both, but also a blessing as she gave me something else to focus on.

I've read romance novels my whole life, long before I ever thought of becoming a writer myself. Tolstoy and Dickens have their place, definitely--but when I want to really be entertained, or escape, or just feel a sense of hope--I turn to romance novels every time.

Thanks so much for sharing your own experience, Aideen. :)

Jennie Lucas said...

Emily, I do the same thing. Even though my son is now a year and a half, at night I'll stop by his bedroom and try to hear him breathe through the closed door. If I can't hear him, sometimes I'll tiptoe inside and touch his back just to make sure...Old habits die hard, I guess!

Thanks for your nice comment about Caretti's Forced Bride. I'm glad you stopped by!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi Jennie,

How amazing to find you here today!
I spent a pleasant half-hour browsing
through your and Olivia Gates' web
sites last evening, reading excerpts
and entering contests. In fact, I
have already placed this book and
Ms. Gates' Desert books on my TBR
list! Thanks for joining us today!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Jennie, congratulations on the U.S. release of Caretti. It's such a fantastic story! As you know, I picked it up and didn't put it down till the last page. With a VERY happy sigh. He's such a great alpha hero and she's so brave and steadfast. Sigh again!

Cheri2628 said...

Caretti's Forced Bride sounds like a reeealy good read! ;) I look forward to reading it.

I am glad that your son is doing OK now. I don't think there is any stronger love than a mother's for her child.

LouShy said...

Jennie, first off, the picture of you is beautiful. The book sounds so powerful. I added it to my shopping list and can't wait to read it.


Jane said...

Hi Jennie,
Congrats on the release of "Caretti's Forced Bride." I'm glad your baby is doing well. Have a great summer.

Jennie Lucas said...

Hi Pat! Thanks for visiting my website, and Olivia's too! Olivia is so glamorous and so fun. I'm looking forward to seeing her next week in San Francisco. We'll both be among the 500 authors at the Literacy Booksigning on July 30 at the Marriott Hotel.

I'm excited and honored to be giving away her books for my July prize. Good luck with the contest--I'll be crossing my fingers for you!

Jennie Lucas said...

Anna Campbell! Squee!!

Thanks again for your wonderful review of Caretti's Forced Bride. I felt honored and thrilled beyond words when you told me how much you loved it. And of course your email immediately became a "review". Your praise meant so much to me, especially since you're one of my top favorite authors! Thank you SO MUCH!!

Now please make January come sooner so I can read Tempt the Devil. :)

Jennie Lucas said...

Cheri, thanks for your nice comments. I hope you like Caretti's Forced Bride. And you're definitely right about the way mothers love their children! I'm guessing you must be a mom as well? :)

Jennie Lucas said...

Amberly, great to see you here! Thanks for the nice words about my photo--that was all Steve Smith (a local photographer), he makes me look good!

Thanks for ordering Caretti's Forced Bride. I hope you like it!

P.S. to Kimmyl:
I just found out that amazon started shipping Caretti's Forced Bride TODAY. Well ahead of its Aug. 1 publishing date! So your order will hopefully be shipped from B&N today as well!

Jennie Lucas said...

Jane, great to see you! Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great summer as well!

Tatia said...


I'm so happy to hear that your little one came through with flying colors! As to be expected, there's nothing like an engaging romance to make the world seem a safer, less scary place. Congrats on writing another happily-ever-after for the rest of us to enjoy!


Estella said...

I am looking forward to reading Caretti's Forced Bride.

kimmyl said...

I sure hope so Jennie.

Jennie Lucas said...

Tatia, thanks for your nice words. I really appreciate you stopping by!

Estella and Kimmyl, I'll be interested to hear what you think of Caretti's Forced Bride. Please drop me a line if you get a chance--I'd love to hear from you!


Christine Rimmer said...

Jennie, Caretti's Force Bride looks terrific. Can't wait to read it. And your story about your beautiful. Nothing so scary as when your baby is ill--and nothing so amazing as seeing them happy and healthy again.

Nathalie said...

I just baught your newest!