- Carina Press
- Release Date
- June 2020
- Book 2 of Filthy Rich
A fake relationship could help Princesa Sofia save her kingdom. Only problem: she'll have to fake it with the man who broke her heart.
Ten years ago, wild child Princesa Sofia Maria Isabel de Esperanza y Santos fell in fast crazy love with heartbreaker Aish Salinger during one California harvest season. Now, all grown up and with the future of her kingdom on her shoulders, she hates him as passionately as she once loved him.
Even if her body hasn't gotten the hate memo.
Faking a relationship with the now-famous rock star for the press and public will ensure the success of her new winery and the prosperity of her kingdom. All she has to do is grit her teeth and bear his tattooed presence in her village and winery—her home—for a month.
Trying to recover from his own scandal, fallen superstar Aish Salinger jumps at the chance to be near Sofia again. Leaving her was the biggest mistake he's ever made, and he's waited ten years to win her back.
He never counted on finding a woman who despised him so much she didn't want to be anywhere near him.
A war of wills breaks out as the princess and rock star battle to control their fake relationship. She wants to dictate every action to keep him away from her. He wants to be as close as he can be. She's already lost so much because of Aish—he won't be the reason her people lose even more.
But he also won't make her break her life's most important vow: to never fall in love again.
Read Filthy Rich book one, Lush Money, available now from Carina Press!
BOOK INTERVIEW on June 2020
Our hero, Aish Salinger, is a down-on-his-luck but still-famous AND gorgeous rock star and our heroine, Princesa Sofia de Esperanza y Santos, is a millionaire winemaking princess whose new winery, a winery she hopes will improve the fortunes of her kingdom, can't get any attention.
A fake relationship between them would draw the world's gaze to her winery and solve Aish's image problems. There's just one catch: She hates him. He broke her heart ten years when they were kids during a California harvest season. He regrets breaking her heart. She regrets ever giving it to him. He's sworn to get her back. And she's sworn never to fall in love again.
So after a big public reception at her winery in Spain, the first time they've seen each other in ten years, they have a quiet moment where they can let their true emotions show. Sofia is with her best friend, Henry, her sister-in-law's super-sized bodyguard. And Aish is with his manager.
The instant Sofia was inside the winery's processing facility--a high-ceilinged, concrete-floored room full of large tanks and equipment and the home of Sofia's glassed-in office--she dropped Aish's arm. She embraced the dim and the cool as she moved away from him and into the protective shelter of Henry's hulking shadow.
"How you holdin' up?" he asked. Henry was way more Texan than her brother. Blond and burly, he looked like the kind of American she might have mistrusted before he opened his mouth. Within minutes of their first conversation, she discovered that below his thick neck was a big squishy heart. He protected Roxanne, and now Roxanne's family, with his life. He was one of the dearest friends Sofia had ever had.
"Estoy bien," she said, rubbing her forehead. "I'm fine."
"Sofia?" Aish's voice echoed through the empty warehouse.
She ignored him.
"No you're not," Henry said, squeezing her shoulder, forcing her to look up into his quarterback-pretty face. "But you did good out there. You pulled it off."
Sofia let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. She covered Henry's big hand with her own. "Gracias," she murmured. "I…"
"Sofia," Aish called again, louder this time. A spark of anger tried to catch in her chest. She breathed in the cool.
Henry's slate blue eyes looked into hers. "You know," he whispered. "At some point you're gonna have to for real talk to him."
"Talk to who?" she said without smiling. "Now, has all the security been set up for the—"
"Sofia!" Aish's voice rang off the steel fermenting tanks and the concrete floors, shot off the rafters and the stained windows. That demand vibrated through her winery. Polluted it. "Would you, just...would you look at me?" he said.
She turned and looked, refusing to let him make her a coward in her own castle. He stepped out of the shadows, tall and lean in his dark clothes. His manager had snuck in and muttered urgently behind him. She raised her chin and didn't say a word.
He took off his sunglasses. His manager went silent.
For the first time in ten years, she met those black eyes.
"I'm sorry." Those dark, sparkling eyes, moving over her face, still had power.
"You should be."
Too sharp, too drawn, his face was still painfully beautiful. He revealed his dimple in a sad, side smile. "You don't even know what I'm apologizing for."
She was stone. She gave him nothing.
His sleek black eyebrows quirked. "Why'd you let the guy talk to you like that?"
"That's not your concern."
He huffed a frustrated breath. "Well...I'm sorry about the song. I'm sorry about this whole--"
"We're not discussing that."
"Goddammit, Sofia!" Aish burst out.
Henry came to her side. "Watch yourself."
"How the f*ck is this supposed to work?" Aish asked, throwing up his big hands, his irritating tattoos flashing like contrails. "You won't look at me, you won't talk to me, I can't ask a single f*cking question."
"You can ask questions," she said coolly. "They will be in your daily scripts."
"Scripts? Sofia! Between you and me?"
Her stomach dropped as he looked at her with everything they once were. They once had. Ten years ago, she'd been overwhelmed and honored by the naked way he'd looked at her, soul-deep stares, unashamed and obvious. His open adoration had worked powerfully on a young girl desperate to be loved.
"I know I've f*cked up, over and over again," he said, and his voice, Dios mio, she'd forgotten how his low voice with just a touch of roughness had lured her. "Just give me five minutes to apologize without..." He motioned to Henry.
Five minutes? After what he'd done to her, he thought he only needed five minutes and an empty room to bring her to heel?
How could she have ever loved this selfish, conceited, narcissistic man-child? How could she have let him back into her life?
Sofia, I f*cked up, he would moan from his bed when he was too hung over to cover his interning shift and needed her to cover it for him.
I f*cked up, he'd begged when he'd forgotten about their one-month anniversary date at Fisherman's Wharf and played a gig in Santa Cruz. She'd wandered the piers for hours, certain she'd gotten the meeting spot wrong, holding twenty-four glittering "I Love You" balloons.
I f*cked up, he'd pleaded when he'd wandered off with a female lead singer at a music festival. He'd cried against Sofia as he reeked of patchouli and swore they only talked managers.
For ten years, despite how she'd deny it, she'd been haunted by the ghost of Aish Salinger. Now he was here, in the flesh, and she could effortlessly become spellbound once again by him. It was almost relieving to verify, once again, how craven and untrustworthy her needs were.
"Verdad, you f*cked up," she said. "Pobrecito." She used to make this "poor thing" come with her voice. She walked toward him, her heels echoing off her concrete floor.
"You f*cked up thinking your help was needed here."
She moved through pools of soft warehouse lighting. "You f*cked up believing your apologies were wanted."
She inhaled the toasty char of barrels stamped with her name. "You f*cked up imagining my kingdom was a place that would give you welcome or rest or redemption."
She stood directly in front of him. It had been a while since she'd worn four-inch heels, but never had she been gladder for her ease in them. "You won't talk to me or touch me or ask me a single question unless it's written in the script. Those are my rules and you will follow them." She let her eyes stroke over his arrested face, his tempting lips and nose, and that black hair she used to grip in her fingers and pull. "Right now everyone feels pity for you, the broken rock star who's come to find his spark in the arms of a party-girl princess."
She fisted his black T-shirt and pulled him down to her. Underneath the pomade and the aftershave and the artifice, she could still smell him, skin smelling of sun and salt. She pressed against his heat, foreign yet so familiar, so she could whisper in his ear. "They've stopped wondering if you're a thief. I can remind them. I have proof that Young Son stole songs." He jerked but she held him close in a tight grip. "You'll stick to my rules or I'll ruin your life. Just like you're trying to ruin mine."
She bit his jaw, a mockery of the kiss he'd given her outside, before she pushed him away and turned on a heel.
"Aish will need a minute," she said as she returned to Henry and wound her arm through his. "Let's join our guests."
For a decade she'd hated her memories of Aish Salinger. Today she discovered that the essence of him still called to her as strongly as it did that fateful night ten years ago.
But for the first time, she was grateful for the brokenhearted reminisces of a spurned little girl. And she was exultant about the box full of treasures she could never bring herself to throw away.