Outstanding anthology of a 4-book, contemporary romance series
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: February 10, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Pages: 489 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Fans of contemporary romance, and author Lynne Graham in particular, can’t miss by purchasing this terrific box set. This Bride for a Billionaire anthology is a convenient and cost effective way to read a wonderful, four-book series about the fascinating Marshall sisters. To purchase these four books individually would cost twice as much.
Over the years, Lynne Graham has written many different series about sisters, and this is one of my favorites. All four of these contemporary romance novels are excellent examples of LG’s work, but the first book, A Rich Man’s Whim, is one of her very best, and the fourth book, Challenging Dante, is near the top of her biggest-hits list as well. The other two books are highly entertaining reads, as well.
LG’s specialty is creating enormous passion between her attractive, sympathetic, romantic protagonists. Not just sexual passion, but emotional passion as well. Any time I pick up one of her books, I need to make sure I start it early in the day, because I will end up staying up all night to finish it. It is impossible to stop turning pages and racing through her stories.
I’ve included below details about the overarching plot of this series, the relationship between these four sisters, as well as information on the premise of each of the four books.
Overarching Backstory of the Series: At the time of Book 1, Kat Marshall is a beautiful, 35-year-old virgin who has sacrificed on behalf of her sisters her 20’s and—so she assumes—any chance for marriage and children of her own. She has been guardian to her much younger, half-siblings for the past eleven years at a bed and breakfast she owns, at the back-of-beyond, in the Lake District in England, far from eligible, desirable men. Worse, the B&B is mortgaged to the hilt, business has fallen off drastically since a recent recession, and she is in danger of losing through bank foreclosure the only real home she and her sisters have ever known.
Kat’s sisters were abandoned by their mother, Odette, a narcissistic former model with a heart of stone, to the foster-care system when the twins, Sapphire (Saffy) and Emerald (Emmie), were twelve years old and Topaz (Topsy) was only six years old. Worse, Emmie at that time was recovering from injuries due to a car accident that had left her confined to a wheelchair. Neither of the fathers of the three girls was willing to take physical or financial responsibility for their young daughters either, but Kat willingly stepped in to become their substitute mother.
At the start of the series, Saffy and Emmie are 23 and Topsy is 18. Kat is the child of Odette’s first marriage, the twins are from her second marriage, and Topsy is the product of an affair. Until very recently, Topsy thought she knew who her father was, a South American polo player, but a DNA test has shockingly proved that he is not related to her, and Topsy very much wants to know who her biological father is, but Odette refuses to tell her.
Book 1, A Rich Man’s Whim: Kat encounters 30-year-old, gorgeous, Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Kusnirovich, when he and two friends are caught in a blizzard while hiking near her bed-and-breakfast, and they lodge with her for the night. The attraction between Kat and Mikhail is immediate and red-hot. Mikhail assumes, as has always been the case in his previous experience with women, that all he has to do to get Kat into his bed is quirk his little finger. He is therefore shocked to his core when she refuses to be his personal plaything for a one-night stand. Fired by frustrated desire and outraged ego, Mikhail is determined to seduce Kat, to whom he is more attracted than any woman he’s ever met. When all else fails, he buys up her mortgage and offers to sign over the deed to her B&B, free and clear, in exchange for a month on his yacht as his hostess. He assures Kat that no sex is expected or required—but it is obvious to both of them that he is arrogantly assuming that time and propinquity will ultimately win him the prize of making love to the ultra-desirable Kat.
Book 2, The Sheikh’s Prize: The events in this book occur around the same time as the events in Book 1. Marrying Sapphire Marshall five years before when she was a virgin of 18 and he was a virgin of 25 was the biggest mistake of Sheikh Zahir Ra’if Quarishi’s life. His marriage to a Western woman was doomed from the start, not only because of the cultural differences, but because Saffy was incapable of allowing him to consummate their marriage. When Saffy, who is currently a famous, international model, returns to Zahir’s desert kingdom of Maraban for a photo shoot for a fashion magazine, he is initially outraged at her nerve. But almost immediately, his anger morphs into an uncontrollable desire to reclaim his ex-wife, if only for a night, in order to make love to her as she would not allow him to do during the catastrophic year that they were together.
Book 3, The Billionaire’s Trophy: The events in this book occur around the same time as the events in Books 1 and 2. Emmie Marshall has worked hard to complete a business degree and at 23 years of age, she is living in poverty in London as she desperately attempts to get a decent job in the business world by initially obtaining work experience as an unpaid intern during the day, while working as a waitress at night. She is currently completing a 3-month internship at Christou Holdings, a highly successful software company. In order to afford living in London, she has accepted the offer of free rent living with her previously estranged mother, Odette. However, she’s discovered to her dismay that there are huge strings attached. Odette runs an exclusive escort service and is constantly nagging Emmie to become one of her escorts. Emmie has flatly refused, having no intention whatsoever of earning income based on her beauty in such a sleazy way. She routinely disguises her appearance at her internship with frumpy clothes, glasses, no makeup and tacky hair to hide her resemblance to her famous, model sister, Sapphire Marshall. Primarily because she hates being constantly accosted by paparazzi who mistake her for Saffy. But also because blatant beauty in a business setting is far more of a handicap to a woman than a benefit.
When 30-year-old, gorgeous, Greek billionaire, Bastian Christou sees his intern’s photo on an escort website, he’s stunned by her unconcealed loveliness, but also appalled by her shady secret life. However, it soon occurs to him that Emmie is made to order to solve his current predicament. He desperately needs a fake girlfriend to accompany him to his sister’s wedding to keep his obnoxious ex-fiancée at bay. In particular, he requires a woman who won’t get any ideas about making a more lasting personal connection with him. When Odette sells Emmie’s time to Bastian and spends his money, Emmie can’t afford to reimburse Bastian to get out of the contract. She has no choice but to spend a whole weekend in Greece with handsome, virile Bastian who, in spite of righteously proclaiming that this arrangement is strictly business, soon sets his sights on seducing virginal Emmie, whom he wrongly assumes will have no problem with a one-night stand.
Book 4, Challenging Dante: Five years have passed since the events of Book 1 in this series, and Topsy Marshal is currently almost 23 years old. She speaks multiple languages, including Italian, and has a doctorate in mathemathics and the potential to be a college professor, but currently she is working in a rather menial, temporary position as a personal assistant to Sofia Leonetti, at the palatial Castello Leonetti in Tuscany. After years of wondering who her father might be, her casually callous mother, Odette, has at long last grudgingly given Topsy the name of the man who might actually be her father, Vittore Ravallo, the man who has recently married Sofia. Topsy feels somewhat guilty that she has taken the position under false pretences, mentioning nothing about her true motive, which is to somehow convince Vittore to do a paternity, DNA test. In addition, she has lied about her father-seeking mission to her over-protective older sisters and their rich, powerful husbands, all of whom still treat her as if she were a naïve teenager. She is determined to stand on her own two feet and solve this very personal problem by herself.
Mega-rich, 29-year-old, international banker, Dante Leonetti, the Conte di Martino, is convinced Topaz Marshall is trying to seduce his mother’s new husband, and he’s determined to seduce Topsy himself to keep her attention off Vittore so she can’t hurt his mother. It won’t be a hardship, though, because he’s never been more attracted to a woman in his life. Unfortunately for his devious plan, however, unlike every other woman he’s ever desired, virginal Topsy has no interest in casual sex.