- Carina Press
- Release Date
- October 2019
- Book 1 of Filthy Rich
A marriage of convenience and three nights a month.
That's all the sultry, self-made billionaire wants from the impoverished prince.
And at the end of the year, she'll grant him his divorce…with a settlement large enough to save his beloved kingdom.
As a Latinx woman, Roxanne Medina has conquered small-town bullies, Ivy League snobs and boardrooms full of men. She's earned the right to mother a princess and feel a little less lonely at the top. The offer she's made is more than generous, and when the contract's fulfilled, they'll both walk away with everything they've ever wanted.
Príncipe Mateo Ferdinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos is one of the top winegrowers in the world, and he's not marrying and having a baby with a stranger. Even if the millions she's offering could save his once-legendary wine-producing principality.
But the successful, single-minded beauty uses a weapon prince Mateo hadn't counted on: his own desire.
This book is approximately 105,000 words.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise!
BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2020
Enjoy this excerpt!
She was beautiful. Of course she was beautiful. When you have billions of dollars at your disposal, you can look any way you want. Roxanne Medina was sky-blue eyed, high-breasted and lush-lipped, with long and lustrous black hair. On the pixelated screen, he couldn't tell how much of her was real or fake. He doubted even her stylist could remember what was Botoxed, extended, and implanted.
Still, she was striking. Mateo closed his mouth with a snap.
Her slow, sensual smile let him know she'd seen him do it.
Mateo glowered as Roxanne Medina slipped her delicate black reading glasses up on her head and aimed those searing blue eyes at him. "These tests are just a formality. We've tested your father and sister and there were no genetic surprises."
"Great," he deadpanned. "Why are you testing me?"
Her sleek eyebrows quirked. "Didn't your father explain this already?" A tiny gold cross hung in the V of her ivory silk top. "We're testing for anything that might make the Golden Prince a less-than-ideal specimen to impregnate me."
Madre de Dios. His father hadn't been delusional. This baby. The king had introduced him to some morally deficient people in his life, but this woman… His shock was punctuated by a needle sliding into his bicep.
"¡Joder!" Mateo yelled, turning to see a needle sticking out of him, just under his t-shirt sleeve. "Stop doing that!"
"Hold still," the devil's handmaiden said emotionlessly, as if stealing someone's blood for unwanted tests was an everyday task for her.
Rather than risk a needle breaking off in his arm, he did stay still. But he glared at the screen. "I haven't agreed to any of this. The only reason I'm here is to tell you 'no.'"
"The king promised…"
"My father makes a lot of promises. Only one of us is fool enough to believe them."
She took the glasses off entirely, sending that hair swirling around her neck, and slowly settled back into her chair. The gold cross hid once again between blouse and pale skin. She stared at him the way he stared at the underside of grape leaves to determine their needs.
Finally, she said, "Forgive me. We've started on different pages. I thought you were on board." Her voice, Mateo noticed, was throaty with a touch of scratch to it. He wondered if that was jet lag from her tropical location. Or did she sound like that all the time? "I run a multinational corporation; sometimes I rush to the finish line and forget my 'pleases' and 'thank yous.' Helen, say you're sorry."
"I'm sorry," Helen said immediately. As she pulled the plunger and dragged Mateo's blood into the vial.
Gritting his teeth, he glared at the screen. "What self-respecting person would have a kid with a stranger for money?"
"A practical one with a kingdom on the line," Roxanne Medina said methodically. "My money can buy you time. That's what you need to right your sinking ship, correct? You need more time to develop the Tempranillo Vino Real?"
Mateo's blood turned cold; he wondered if Nurse Ratched could see it freezing as she pulled it out of him. He stayed quiet and raised his chin as the nurse put a Band-Aid on his arm.
"This deal can give you the time you need," the billionaire said, her voice beckoning. "My money can keep your people solvent until you get those vines planted."
She sat there, a stranger in a tropical villa, declaring herself the savior of the kingdom it was Mateo's responsibility to save.
For centuries, the people of Monte del Vino Real, a plateau hidden among the Picos de Europa in northernmost Spain, made their fortunes from the lush wines produced from their cool-climate Tempranillo vines. But in recent years, mismanagement, climate change, the world's focus on French and California wines, and his parents' devotion to their royal lifestyle instead of ruling had devalued their grapes. The world thought the Monte was "sleepy." What they didn't know was that his kingdom was nearly destitute.
Mateo was growing a new variety of Tempranillo vine in his UC Davis greenhouse lab whose hardiness and impeccable flavor of the grapes it produced would save the fortunes of the Monte del Vino Real. His new-and-improved vine or "clone"--he'd called it the Tempranillo Vino Real for his people--just needed a couple more years of development. To buy that time, he'd cobbled together enough loans to keep credit flowing to his growers and business owners and his community teetering on the edge of financial ruin instead of free-falling over. He'd also instituted security measures in his lab so that the vine wouldn't be stolen by competitors.
But Roxanne Medina was telling him that all of his efforts--the favors he'd called in to keep the Monte's poverty a secret, the expensive security cameras, the pat downs of grad students he knew and trusted--were useless. This woman he'd never met had sniffed out his secrets and staked a claim.
"What does or doesn't happen to my kingdom has nothing to do with you," he said, angry at a computer screen.
She put down her glasses and clasped slender, delicate hands in front of her. "This doesn't have to be difficult," she insisted. "All I want is three nights a month from you."
He scoffed. "And my hand in marriage."
"Yes," she agreed. "The king has produced more than enough royal bastards for the Monte, don't you think?"
The king. His father. The man whose limitless desire to be seen as a wealthy international playboy emptied the kingdom's coffers. The ruler who weekly dreamt up get-rich-quick schemes that—without Mateo's constant monitoring and intervention—would have sacrificed the Monte's land, people, and thousand-year legacy to his greed.
It was Mateo's fault for being surprised that his father would sell his son and grandchild to the highest bidder.
"I'm just asking for three nights a month for a year," Roxanne Medina continued. "At the end of that year, I'll 'divorce' you--" her air quotes cast in stark relief what a mockery this "marriage" would be "--and provide you with the settlement I outlined with your father. Regardless of the success of your vine, your people will be taken care of and you will never have to consider turning your kingdom into an American amusement park."
That was another highly secretive deal that Roxanne Medina wasn't supposed to know about: An American resort company wanted to purchase half the Monte and develop it as a playland for rich Americans to live out their royal fantasies. But her source for that info was easy; his father daily threatened repercussions if Mateo didn't sign the papers for the deal.
In the three months since Mateo had stormed out of that meeting, leaving his father and the American resort group furious, his IT guy had noticed a sharp rise in hacking attempts against his lab's computers. And there'd been two attempted break-ins on his apartment, according to his security company.
Billionaire Roxanne Medina might be the preferable devil.
Copyright © 2019 by Angelina M. Lopez
Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez is available now and Hate Crush, the second book in the Filthy Rich series, will be available this June.