Desperate to escape an arranged marriage, Angelina Herrera flees from Cuba to Key West to start a new life and build her own business. But when her past catches up with her, she realizes the only way she can avoid the arranged marriage is to marry another … in name only.
Drawn to the fiercely independent beauty Angelina, Cuban revolutionary, Alejandro Estava marries her. Though outwardly he agrees to the platonic relationship because of his secret past, he cannot deny his powerful desire to possess her completely.
But tempestuous forces more powerful than the hurricane descending on their island home unleashes their mutual passion while threatening their yearning for a lifelong bond.
This title was originally issued in 2000 by Zebra.
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The magistrate cleared his throat loudly and intoned the opening words of the ceremony. Angelina strained to listen, but his words didn’t register.
She felt strange, as if she were standing outside her body and looking on. She’d acquiesced to their marriage because it was better than returning to Cuba and facing what her father had planned. Alejandro had promised she could live her life as she saw fit, running her factory without his interference. He’d even promised to end the marriage when her father was convinced to leave her alone.
But somehow, all his reassurances rang hollow. She was more than aware of their attraction to each other. How could they possibly withstand temptation, living together as man and wife? And if they succumbed to temptation, there would be no easy annulment. Even if they weren’t married by the Church, if they shared a bed, they were married in the eyes of God. And what if a child came of their union?
The magistrate, attired in a worn frock coat and soiled linen, said something about taking this man and stared at her. Trying to focus, she was like a fish out of water, completely out of her element.
Alejandro squeezed her hand.
She lifted her head and gazed expectantly at the magistrate.
The man met her gaze and frowned. Impatience colored the tone of his voice when he repeated, “Will you, Angelina Ximenes, take this man for your lawfully wedded husband? For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to honor and obey?”
The word “obey” stuck in her mind.
What had she gotten herself into?
There was no going back. The die was cast. She’d gambled and lost…or won, depending upon how her future played out.
Gazing at Alejandro, she knew he was good and kind, forthright and honest. He was young, and a healthy physical specimen. A far better “catch” then the ancient planter whom her father wanted her to marry.
She should be happy to have escaped her fate, to have been rescued. It was why she’d accepted his marriage proposal, wasn’t it? Or was it? She was attracted to Alejandro and wanted nothing more than to shelter in his strong arms and have him teach her the pleasures between a man and woman. But that would be her downfall, binding her for life.
Would it be so terrible?
Old memories rose in her mind, swamping her. When she was small, she’d been her father’s favorite, following him everywhere with unswerving love, trust, and devotion. And he’d reciprocated her love, doting on her, giving her everything her heart desired.
But when she’d grown into a young woman, her father had turned on her, changing before her very eyes. Gone was the easy affection, to be replaced by an aloof distance. Then he’d begun to plot her future and her marriage. No longer was she her father’s beloved hija. Suddenly, she was a thing to be bartered and sold.
Was it any wonder she didn’t trust men? That she cursed their controlling, domineering ways? As much as she respected Alejandro and was grateful to him, could she trust him to be any different?
The magistrate cleared his throat loudly.
Alejandro glanced at her.
It was too late for regrets. She must speak.
She cleared her throat, too, and said, “I do.”
The magistrate nodded and moved on, addressing Alejandro with a similar vow. Except his vow didn’t include the obey part.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” Alejandro intoned solemnly, slipping something cold and hard on the third finger of her left hand.
Lost in her thoughts, his gesture drew her back, and she glanced down to find a gold band on her finger. But it wasn’t a customary wedding ring. Opening her eyes wide, she stared at it. The ring was shaped like a cigar band, wide in the middle and tapering at the sides. Tiny precious stones lined the edges, mimicking the colored lettering of a cigar label.
Realizing the thoughtfulness that had gone into fashioning the special ring, especially in such a short time, her eyes misted. She lifted her head and gazed at Alejandro, silently thanking him for the gesture.
“I now pronounce you man and wife,” the magistrate thundered. “You may kiss the bride.”
Closing her eyes, she felt cherished by Alejandro’s gift of the custom-made ring. He’d thought of what would please her, not what society dictated. The ring was a hopeful start. Perhaps he really was different from other men.
Perhaps they could live together as equals, respecting each other. Was it too much to expect?
She lifted her face to be kissed, silently surrendering herself to him, heart, body, and soul.
Expecting a searing kiss, like the night at the ball, she was surprised when his lips barely brushed hers. Her eyes flew open, and she stared at him.
He smiled but averted his gaze.
So that was the way of it. He planned to honor his promises, to make this a marriage in name only. She should be relieved, but instead, his unexpected aloofness drove an icy wedge into her heart.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hebby Roman is the multi-published author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, Summer Dreams, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, Summer Dreams, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance.
Hebby is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and the past president of her local chapter, North Texas Romance Writers. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection.
She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas in Austin and was selected for inclusion in the first edition of Who’s Who in American Women.
She is blessed to have all her family living close by in north Texas, including her family’s latest edition, her granddaughter, Mackenzie. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and maltipoo, Maximillian.
Visit her website at: www.hebbyroman.com or find her on Facebook.