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Stranded with a Spy

The Tiger's Bride

Undercover Groom

The Duke’s New Year’s Resolution
by Merline Lovelace
(Silh. Desire #1913, $4.75, PG-13)  ISBN 373-76913-X
The hero of The Duke’s New Year’s Resolution is not only a duke of a small Mediterranean country, he is a neurosurgeon. Dr. Marco Calvetti is hot and healthy and yet he is still recovering from the loss of his wife, Giannetta, who died in a boating accident a few years earlier. She is described in a way that makes the reader think she may have had a mental illness, and that her inability to act rationally may have led to her death, at least in part.

Sabrina Russo is an American in Amalfi researching convention sites for a potential customer. She and her two friends from college days have started their own business and her task is to visit several places along the Italian coast and then coordinate the project package with her friends. She is amazed at the beauty of the coastline and as the story opens, she is exploring the side of a stretch of s-curves that happen to overlook the sea.  She is almost hit by a Ferrari, and the backpedaling she has to do to get out of his way takes her over the side, where she lands and injures her ankle.

Marco invites Sabrina to recuperate at his villa and the rest they say, is history.  But wait, we do have the story to get through.  Sabrina is the daughter of a powerful businessman who always ordered her to do everything.  Eventually she got fed up and that is why she is now in business for herself.  She is amazed that Marco seems just as dominant and despite his looks and her attraction, she questions how she could fall under his spell.  This is one of the primary conflicts in the story.

Marco, meanwhile, is amazed at the initial likeness that Sabrina has with his deceased wife.  But the more he gets to know her he realizes that they are nothing alike in personality.  To add to the complications, we have Marco’s protective mother, and their careers that seemingly take them in two different directions.

This was a fun little story and one that had lots of romance in a unique locale around the holidays. These two burn up the pages both during their courtship and in the midst of their affair.  They are highly compatible. One thing I really liked about Marco was that when Sabrina asked him not to throw his weight around when she was meeting with the hoteliers, he respected her wishes.  Not only that, he actually asked permission when he really thought he might help make a positive influence; and once again, respected her negative response. 

Sabrina is a good heroine and fit within this adventure.  She is always a bit of a hellion, primarily to be rebellious against her father.  But she matures and even has the good grace to feel bad when her past comes back to generate a possible scandal. 

The Duke’s New Year’s Resolution is a fun story even though it broke no new ground.  It’s a good way to enjoy a cold afternoon. 

--Shirley Lyons

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