A few years ago my mom started watching a fairly steady diet of Home and Garden Television. It was always on when I would stop by. I asked her about it, and she explained, “I don’t want to worry during my entertainment anymore. I know that the room is going to be beautiful at the end of the show and that everyone will be happy.” She was none too happy when the design star competitions started, but House Hunters makes up for it. Home design shows have a formula that works for her.
One of fiction’s oldest plot devices is The Marriage of Convenience. Its cousin, The Arranged Marriage, is also popular. The Marriage of Circumstance often rounds out the three. Formulaic books bother some people and others flock to them. Let me be clear, though. Formulaic doesn’t equal bad to me. Not at all. It’s just a flavor…and the convenient/arranged/circumstantial marriage flavor can be seriously delicious. Jennifer Probst re-branded these formulas with her series, MARRIAGE TO A BILLIONAIRE. The quartet of books has one thing in common – marriage for motives other than love.
In each book, many things are clear. The players in question will be beautiful/handsome. They WILL argue a lot. There WILL be hot sex. There WILL be miscommunication, hurt feelings, guilt, disappointment, bullheadedness, longing, lust, and business trouble. There WILL be at least one unintended pregnancy. There WILL be lost virginity. There will be meddling family members. There WILL be…a love spell.
The couple in question WILL live Happily Ever After.
A marriage in name only…
To save her family home, impulsive bookstore owner, Alexa Maria McKenzie, casts a love spell. But she never planned on conjuring up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart. Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his uncle’s corporation, he needs a wife and needs one fast. When he discovers his sister’s childhood friend is in dire financial straits, he’s offers Alexa a bold proposition.
A marriage in name only with certain rules: Avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right? Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans….
To satisfy his late father’s wishes, hot and single billionaire Michael Conte must find a bride—someone who will fit into his traditional family back home in Italy—and fast, so his engaged sister will be allowed to wed. With no intention of being tied down, Michael “proposes” to fiery, free-spirited photographer Maggie Ryan: if she will play the part of his fiancée during her trip to Milan for a photo shoot, he will keep away from her married best friend, Alexa, and stop making Maggie nuts with their too-close-for- comfort flirtations.
But once in Italy, sexual tension sparks the hottest no-strings- attached arrangement on any continent. Could marriage be the most enticing trap of all?
Carina Conte has had a crush on her brother Michael’s best friend, Max Gray, since she was a teenager back home in Italy. Now she’s earned her MBA and come to work at Michael’s new venture, America’s fastest-growing bakery empire. But some things never change: her overprotective family still treats her like a child. With three drop-dead gorgeous siblings, she’s still the ugly duckling of the bunch. And Max, the company’s new CEO, still barely notices her.
Max knows Carina Conte is strictly off-limits, for the sake of his job and his friendship with Michael. But hot-blooded lust wins out at a conference when the two share a scorching one-night stand—and are busted by her mother! Now, forced by old-world Italian tradition into a marriage he’s not ready for, Max is miserable—and Carina is furious. Her new husband is about to realize that hell hath no fury like a woman transformed. . . .
Her sisters have found wedded bliss with their wealthy, wonderful dream men, but not Julietta Conte. She’s stayed on terra firma as top executive of the family’s corporation, La Dolce Famiglia bakery. Work is her passion, and her trendy Milan apartment her sanctuary . . . until Sawyer Wells, a masculine masterpiece in a suit, lures her out of hiding with an irresistible offer: an exclusive partnership with his international chain of boutique hotels.
Julietta’s been burned before—and trusting her brotherin- law’s friend, whose powerful gaze alone has her rethinking the best use of a conference room, is the riskiest proposition. But with a once-in-a-career chance to take the bakery global, will she mix stone-cold business with red-hot seduction?
The continuity of the series is seamless. The first couple, Alexa and Nick come together through Maggie, Nick’s sister/Alexa’s BFF. Maggie ends up married to Michael Conte, heir to an Italian bakery empire headed by the indomitable Mama Conte. Michael’s baby sister, Carina, marries Max, Michael’s best friend and business associate. The last book’s couple includes Michael’s other sister, Julietta, marrying hotel magnate Sawyer, a friend of Max’s.
Of course, nothing is as simple as it appears in print. That’s where the fun starts…and these books are SO very fun.
More to the point, the last three marriages are a direct result of Mama Conte’s meddling. Do NOT cross Mama Conte. She will win and she will be right, because Italian mamas are always right, right? I imagine Mama Conte looking a lot like Granny from the Loony Tunes cartoons, sporting a grey bun and admonishing you with a wooden spoon. She means well and loves them dearly, so you won’t mind her methods. Someone’s gotta get these crazy kids together.
Probst has woven together engaging tales spanning both the United States and Italy. This is a lovely way to round out your summer reading list. Pour some wine. Eat some chocolate. Enjoy…
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