PRETEND PRINCESS, released on March 27, 2017
The rest of Chapter One
Even in dim light, Prince Lawrence in the flesh was even better looking than pictures she’d seen on the newsstands at the airport last night. What should she do? Bow? Curtsy? Kiss his hand? His intense look made her feel like a fragile butterfly trying to escape a determined hunter with a net.
“Allysa, where’s your security guard? We have been worried about you. Where have you been?”
“Uh . . . sorry to disappoint you, Your Majesty, but I’m not Allysa.”
“I beg your pardon, mademoiselle. I can see that now. But the resemblance . . .” His deep velvety voice caressed her ears like a lover’s. “You look amazingly like my cousin. May I ask your name?” An engaging smile lit up his face, setting his dimple in deep relief.
“Patricia Parker, but my friends call me Tricia.” That sounded so lame. Couldn’t she have come up with something smoother, instead sounding chatty. Ill at ease, she felt the delicate chain strap of the pricy evening bag she couldn’t resist buying, slip down her arm. She reached to pull it back, but he was quicker.
He settled the chain on her bare shoulder, then met her gaze as if wondering if he’d been too forward.
His warm hand on her bare flesh sent tingles down her arm. His cologne floated past her, rich, exotic and manly. She clutched her sequined bag and took a deep breath. Every day she spoke in front of the class she taught at the university. What could she say? “Do they have performances here often?” She felt at loss to talk about anything else. Why couldn’t she make small talk with him? Although he had two bodyguards standing at attention behind him and one off to the side, he was just a man after all.
No, not like other men. He had an air about him. As if he expected women to crowd around him and everyone to follow his lead.
A broad smile brightened his face. His eyes shone with sincerity and warmth. Warmth directed toward her. Warmth sparking little fires of awareness like luminaries lighting up lawns at Christmas. He must charm all the women of Cordillera.
With a throaty chuckle, he leaned closer. “Smile.”
A sudden flash blinded Tricia momentarily. She caught a glimpse of a photographer scurrying away.
“Does that mean . . . will our picture be in tomorrow’s papers?”
He smiled. “Most likely. Every place I’m seen, and much of what I do, appears in the news. Of course, they never focus on the important things.”
The prince looked as if he had said too much. “Oh, nothing.”
Tricia was intrigued. “No, really. I’d like to know.”
“I have the same problem as all royalty. The press does not take us seriously. They only note where I have attended the opening of a hospital or danced with an ambassador’s wife. I would like to have a headline, even if just a little one, that mentions my serious work.”
He towered over her, larger than life, making her catch her breath. “And what is that?” she asked.
His expression turned thoughtful. “They never mention I finished at the university with highest honors, or that I set up a student exchange program with several other countries. I also represented our country at trade negotiations with the European Union which will increase trade for Cordillera. At least that made the papers.”
“That must free your father, the king, to deal with your country’s domestic affairs.”
“My father died when I was a child. The king is my uncle.”
“Oh, I thought…I’m sorry about your father, but I don’t understand. I heard you’re in line for the throne. Doesn’t the king have a daughter?”
He nodded. “Unfortunately for her, male succession is the rule here. As the king’s oldest nephew, I will be the next ruler. But he is hale and hearty, and–”
“And that gives you plenty of time to play polo and travel.”
He looked annoyed.
Probably shouldn’t have said that, but weren’t most princes like that?
“I beg your pardon, mademoiselle. I am involved in several worthy charities, including a vocational school for girls.”
“Oh. Excuse me, Your Majesty, I uh ….” Damn. She couldn’t think of anything to say. A quirk of his eyebrow and his slight smile made her think maybe he wasn’t as affronted as she’d thought.
“Since I am not the king, you don’t need to say Your Majesty. Your Highness is sufficient.” His devilish smile started a delicious stirring inside, like a bud about to blossom.
She took a step back, but he reached for her hand. He held it lightly as if to let her break away if she wished. As he pulled her a step closer, warmth from his body flowed over her.
She tried to pull away, but he kept hold of her hand. She glanced at his face, trying to read him. He grinned. “Can you at least smile this time?” He nodded toward another photographer about to snap their picture. Maybe the prince was only looking out for his public image. What the heck? Might as well play along. She smiled.
The flash went off, making her blink. After her eyes adjusted, she looked up. He’d released her, but his gaze still seemed interested. Good lord, was it possible?
Sounds of the orchestra tuning up rose above the buzz of conversation in the foyer. “So, Your Majesty, will we be linked romantically after this?” She clamped her lips together. That sounded loony and insecure. Her mouth would be the ruin of her yet. He probably dated only royal and noble ladies.
He smiled. “Not Your Majesty. Just Your Highness. My name is Lawrence.”
Tricia swallowed. She couldn’t even get that right. “Uh . . . Your Highness, I must get back to my younger sisters. I’m responsible for them while my parents are away. The minister of commerce and his wife most graciously offered us seats in their box.”
She turned and took a step. However, his touch warmed her shoulder. “Do not go back just yet. I doubt you will be considered my next conquest.”
She could feel the heat rise from her chest. Her face must be flaming. Why had she thought he’d be interested in her? She wanted to flee from his mesmerizing eyes and seductive voice.
He was too sexy for his own good. Probably had to use all his tact to turn away fawning females. Well, she wouldn’t be one. She pulled away. She couldn’t wait to get back to her seat.
His look was stern. “Do not leave yet.”
He had a nerve. She shot him a defiant look. “Where I come from, a woman doesn’t wait to be dismissed if she is ready to leave.”
He looked affronted. “I am definitely considered a gentleman by all citizens of Cordillera. However, I must correct your belief that your picture was taken because you are with me.”
She frowned. “Okay, I get it. I don’t mingle in your society, but you don’t have to rub it in.
* * *
Lawrence smiled. She was full of American impertinence, but spunky and adorable. Apparently unfamiliar with monarchy, she was a challenge. “The last photographer must have also mistaken you for Princess Allysa because you look so much like her. I, too, was fooled at first, even though we grew up together.”
The lights dimmed again, and music swelled. She backed away. “I must return to my seat. The opera will begin any moment.”
He grasped her hand again, his touch gentle this time. “Please. Don’t leave. I would like to invite you to dinner at the palace the day after tomorrow.”
She looked shocked. Of course, she would. She didn’t even know him. Had she heard the rumors the king had a mistress? He didn’t want her to think he was like that. What could he say to make a good impression?
She pulled her hand away. “I appreciate your invitation, but I already have another engagement. Please excuse me. I need to join my sisters.”
Well, that was different. Since when did a lady turn down a prince? The lights dimmed again, and sounds of the orchestra playing the music to Carmen flowed through the theater doors. A lady in a long dress and glittering jewels accompanied by a man in a tuxedo hurried inside.
“Please allow me to escort you to your seat.” Fortunately, this time she nodded.
* * *
The press of the prince’s hand on Tricia’s back exuded warmth and a touch of possessiveness. Too bad, her parents had flown out this afternoon and left her in charge.
The faint scent of sandalwood teased her nose as he strode beside her. At the door to the box, he waved to the rotund minister of commerce and his wife. “Buenas noches Señor, Señora De Marco.” He flashed Tricia a brilliant smile. “Au revoir then, mademoiselle.” His fluent use of two languages reminded her Cordillera was sandwiched between France and Spain.
As she slid into a seat at the rear of the box, the prince, so alive, so confident, and unbelievably charismatic, lingered in her thoughts. Was she a fool for not responding to his invitation?
A sense of unreality settled around Tricia as she slipped into her seat. Six-year-old Cindy pulled at Tricia’s skirt. “Was that the prince?”
Becky held a finger to her lips. “Of course, it was. Didn’t you see his picture in the paper last night?”
“Yes, but I thought he’d wear a crown. Wow, a real prince.” Cindy’s face sparkled with animation. “I think he likes you.”
Tricia laughed. “That’s ridiculous. He was just being a gentleman and escorting me back to my seat.”
Fourteen-year-old Becky looked wistful. “I wish he’d smiled at me like that.”
A round of applause wafted up from the auditorium. Tricia placed a finger to her lips. “Shhh, someone’s about to sing.”
Moments later, a tall, dark-haired man in a scarlet uniform stood beside her, startling her. “Señorita, I must speak with you,” he said, his voice low.
Puzzled, she looked up at his face. “Yes?”
He leaned closer. “I am Alfredo Goya, aide to Prince Lawrence. Señor DeMarco, would you please excuse Señorita Parker for a moment?
Tricia rose. Was the prince going to issue another invitation to the palace? She stepped into the hallway.
Mr. Goya bowed. “His Highness, Prince Lawrence, wishes you and your sisters would accept a ride to your home after the performance. I assure you he will be on his best behavior.”
Mr. Goya’s last comment gave her pause, but here was her chance to see what the prince was really like. Surely, nothing unseemly would happen in a short ride to the house where her parents had been staying. “Yes, that would be lovely, thank you.”
Mr. Goya left as quietly as he’d come. Opposite the box where she sat was a larger one with red velvet drapes embroidered with a crown and a monogram. Inside sat a tall man, whose august presence awed her. Two security guards stood at the back. Beside the king, sat a blond woman in a purple velvet evening gown, its low neckline topped with a glittering amethyst necklace. She wore matching earrings that dangled.
As the familiar music of Carmen filled the air, Tricia glanced across the corner of the small theater to the box, where the prince sat with the king and queen. She borrowed the opera glasses from Señora DeMarco, the minister of commerce’s slender wife, and raised them to her eyes.
Prince Lawrence held a program, but he was looking at her. And then he winked.
He was not only aware of his charm, but he knew how to use it. And even though she’d sidestepped his invitation, she bet he’d try again to talk her into it. That could be interesting and exciting … and totally nerve-wracking.
* * *
After the opera, Tricia stood with her sisters outside the theater. People stared at her, making her nervous. As a gleaming white limousine pulled up to the curb, a petite woman in a black cape with a hood approached Tricia. “Your Highness, I’m sorry to bother you, but it would be most gracious of you to speak to the king about equal job opportunities for married women.”
Tricia stood there, speechless. They really did think she was Princess Allysa.
A tall man wearing a suit coat over pants that didn’t quite match hurried up to the woman. “Collette, do not bother the princess. Come, it’s time we went home to our children.”
As they walked away, from an open window of the waiting limousine, the prince remarked, “Protesters again. There always seem to be some around.”
A soldier in a red uniform stepped out and held a door open.
Wow,” Cindy exclaimed. “That car is humongous. Is the prince really going to give us a
“Yes.” Tricia answered.
Cindy reached out and ran her fingers over the car’s smooth finish. Becky grabbed her sister’s arm and pulled it back.
Prince Lawrence stepped out of the limousine, and Tricia introduced her sisters. She waited for the girls to climb in, then made a move to follow.
A soldier closed the door. Alarmed, Tricia said, “Wait. I need to sit with them.”
The soldier shook his head and opened another door. “Señorita, please sit in here.”
She slid into a creamy leather seat. The prince followed and sat across from her. A glass divider separated them from her sisters.
The prince’s welcoming smile made her feel more at ease. “Now tell me about yourself. What brings you to Cordillera? I would like to know what music you listen to, which movies you enjoy, and what books you read. Do you have any hobbies?” He leaned back, his look focused on her face. He seemed really interested in her as a person.
“That’s a lot to cover in one ride.”
His dark eyed gaze met hers. “You fascinate me. The assured way you move. Your look of vulnerability when I invited you to dinner and your courage in refusing my invitation. I admire that. Now tell me what you do.” Surprisingly, he didn’t seem like a self-important playboy at all, but he was definitely pouring on the charm.
She leaned back. “I teach at a university in Texas, but I came to Cordillera to visit my family. My parents are missionaries here, but they are away at a religious conference, so I am looking after my sisters.”
“You hardly seem old enough to be a professor. What type of classes do you teach?”
“I’m a graduate student teaching there while working toward a doctorate in sociology. And in my spare time, I like to paint. I’m not very good at it, but it relaxes me.”
“That is interesting. Allysa paints too. Perhaps you’re more like her than I thought.”
The limousine stopped at the rented house where her parents and sisters lived. Prince Lawrence escorted her and her sisters to the door. She unlocked the door, and her sisters walked in. His eyes met hers. He was looking at her, not like a prince viewing his subject, but like a man fascinated with a woman. She enjoyed the heady feeling and smiled back. He lifted her hand and kissed it. “Au revoir, my lady.”
* * *
The next day after lunch, the prince’s white limousine rolled up. Cindy ran to the window. “There’s that ginormous car. Why is the prince here?”
Tricia looked out. “I’m not sure.” Most likely, he was here to twist her arm about coming to dinner at the palace.
Prince Lawrence, accompanied by the tall, dark-haired aide she’d seen before, strode to the door. An imperious knock sounded.
She opened the door. “Good afternoon, Your Highness. What brings you here?”
He smiled. “Have you and your sisters ever been inside a palace?”
She shook her head. “As daughters of missionaries, we are more likely to see poverty-stricken families like those living next door.”
“We can discuss that later, but I came here to invite you and your sisters to tea at the palace.”
Cindy ran over to Tricia, her blond ponytail flopping. “Can we go? Can we? I want to see the palace.”
Tricia brushed her slacks, hoping they didn’t look wrinkled. If she’d suspected he’d show up here, she’d have worn something else.
Cindy yanked on Tricia’s sleeve. “Please say yes. I want to see what it looks like inside. When we get back to Texas, I can tell Maria all about it.”
“And who is Maria?” the prince asked.
“My best friend in the whole world,” Cindy said.
Prince Lawrence smiled. “I bet you will have lots to tell her.”
Cindy looked at Tricia, her expression pleading.
Becky set down the book she was reading and stepped closer. “That would be awesome. We’ll never get another chance if you say no.”
JUST THE TWO OF US
“Hands up.” The man, all in black, including a mask, was of average height. Baggy clothes hid his body shape. His big gun looked deadly, but he wasn’t holding it very steady.
Justin Sherrod gripped his store’s glass jewelry counter, swallowed a gasp, then shot up his hands. His stomach twisted in knots. A light fixture hummed because it was about to go out. The clock above his head ticked ominously.
Thank goodness, his one employee was off today. Now at eight-thirty, it was getting dark, and he was the only one here. Except a woman was pushing the door open. Out of sight of the gunman. His heart leapt. He had to say something. “Why are you pulling a gun on me?” he said loudly and raised his hands higher.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the door close and the woman disappear. He let out the breath he’d been holding.
The gunman turned his head as if to guess what made the noise. Justin kept his eyes on the man.
He knew this could happen.
He’d planned for it.
Rehearsed for it.
Where was that damn button?
He must be standing right next to it. He dared not look down.
There. He stepped on it. Now it was time to stall.
He kept his hands up. “What do you want?”
Aiming the gun at Justin’s chest, the robber pointed to the glass case between them. “Those rings. Set them on the counter, and you won’t get hurt.”
“Easy, man. I just have to unlock the case.” Keeping one hand up, Justin struggled to dig for his keys. He pulled them out and flipped through them. He caught a glimpse of the burglar’s impatient glare. Finally got the right one.
As he inserted the key, he inadvertently pushed the button for the cabinet lights, which flashed off.
“What didya do to the lights?” the burglar demanded. “Did you set off some alarm?”
Justin shook his head. “I accidentally hit the switch for the case lights. They make the diamonds sparkle even more.” He turned the lights on again. “Which tray do you want?”
“All three, you son of a bitch. Hurry the hell up.”
Justin’s phone jangled.
“Answer the phone. If that’s the cops, tell them you’re good.”
TRY A TASTE OF A NEW AUTHOR
SNEAK PEEK SAMPLER NOW AVAILABLE
The Romantic Suspense Sampler is up on Amazon. You can read a chapter of my second Witness Protection Series book, Protected by Love. Follow Elizabeth Leventhal as she tries to escape from her ex, a rich man she married without realizing he was part of a gangster organization. Watch hunky U.S. Marshal Joe Berg, whisk her away from danger while he tries to keep his hands off his pretty witness. The first book in the series is Hiding From Love, which is now free on Amazon, so you can read it for free also.
Not only that, but you can sample other romantic suspense authors in this Sneak Peek Sampler.
SEARCHING FOR LOVE
Posted on July 6, 2016 by carolynrae1
Searching for Love , my new romantic suspense adventure novel was published on July 13th by Wild Rose Press. I had a Facebook Launch Party on July 11th from 4-7 CDT and posted my recipe for Mint Frosted Brownies.
In Searching for Love, Valerie finds a search for her sister in Mexico leads to danger and love.
Tossed aside in favor of her sister, a determined Valerie Trumbull reluctantly teams up with her ex-fiance’s brother, Matt Larson, to hunt her missing sister south of the Texas border. Valerie expects him to be a jerk like his brother, but Matt compliments her and says he finds her sexy. When she awakes on a narrow cot in their Mexican prison cell, she is warmed by his arms around her.
Attorney Matt Larson is attracted to Valerie, but she argues constantly with him about his plans to find her sister. Valerie also disappears and he sets everything aside to find her. When she’s delivered, half alive, to his office in a wooden shipping crate, he realizes how much she means to him. Can they manage to compromise while searching for her sister?
ROYAL WEDDING CAKE
MY BOOK, ROYAL WEDDING CAKE IS LIVE ON AMAZON
Posted on January 21, 2016 by carolynrae1
In Royal Wedding Cake, reporter Danielle Dawson meets Armando, the handsome nephew of the king, falls into the cake, hears a bomb explode, and has many other adventures with Armando and the six children of the king.
See recipe below for Chocolate Croissants, Danielle’s favorite delicacy in Monterra.
Posted on January 13, 2016 by carolynrae1
ROYAL WEDDING CAKE, my new book, will be coming out soon in the Monterra Kingdom Kindle World. Imagine yourself in a small country in the Italian Alps visiting the king and queen, their interesting six children and meeting Armando, the irresistible nephew of the king. Danielle Dawson is drawn to the handsome prince, but loves her job as a reporter for a Dallas paper. He wines and dines her, but her favorite delicacy is the chocolate croissant. I have developed an easy recipe for them, which is shown below. See also an excerpt from Royal Wedding Cake.
Danielle’s Chocolate Croissants
1 (17.3 ounce package) with 2 sheets of
Frozen puff pastry, thaw 40 minutes or use Crescent Refrigerated Dough Sheets
Flour for dusting
2 -3 Kingsize Hershey bars (need 1 ½ for 18 croissants)
Broken into rectangular pieces
Where it’s scored
Sugar for sprinkling on top
1 sheet makes 18 croissants.
Spread one pastry sheet out with the shorter side at the bottom. Cut in half across the width. Lay a ruler across the edge of the bottom and top of each piece and make tiny marks at two inch intervals. Cut pastry into long triangles with a bottom two inches wide, making the point at the middle of the two inch interval at the top. This will give you 8 long triangles. You can pinch the half-sized triangles at the edges together to form another triangle.
Place a chocolate rectangle at the two inch bottom of a triangle and roll it up. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray, seam side down. Repeat with the other pastry sheet (or eat the rest of the chocolate and do something else with the other sheet of puff pastry). After rolling all the triangles, cover them with plastic wrap and place the tray in the refrigerator for half an hour to firm up. Set the oven at 400 degrees, and beat the egg. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
EXCERPT FROM ROYAL WEDDING CAKE
I should have been focused on the four-foot wedding cake, dotted with silver pearls and decorated with pink roses and a pale blue bow. But what caught my eye was the man carrying it. With muscled arms and broad shoulders molding his suit, he was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen. His brown eyes and the hint of a smile on his tanned face intrigued me. And then he winked. At me.
If only I could take my eyes off him long enough to describe the cake and Monterra for readers back in Texas, I might be able to impart the essence of this delightful country nestled in the Italian Alps.
Later, inside the reception room, in a building separate from the palace, sparkling crystal disks hung from huge chandeliers. Floor to ceiling mirrors reflected their images, setting the room ablaze with light. If I could capture the grandeur of this reception, my article and pictures might even make the front page, or at least that of the Living Section. “Shawn, get several pictures of Prince Dominic and his bride in the receiving line, and take a few of the cake.”
“Got it, Danielle,” said my lean photographer as he adjusted his glasses.
The sound of a music box playing a familiar merry-go-round tune came from a rainbow-hued ball rolling between my feet. A small, dark-haired girl in a purple dress chased it. I bent down to catch it for her, and she bumped into me.
Stepping back I tripped over the very ball I had tried to retrieve – teetering, I blinked and came face to face with the ginormous cake.
Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged Chocolate Croissants, Monterra Kingdom, romantic suspense, Royal Wedding Cake | Leave a comment | Edit
In my romantic suspense series you can read about Laura Lee, who not only hides from her criminal ex-box, but from love and marriage. Can Alex Brandon change her mind?
Laura Lee’s sister, Elizabeth wants to be protected from her ex-husband. Joe Berg wants to keep her safe, but he also wants her in his arms–against Witness Security Program rules.
Sheila wants to make good with her first witness to protect. But he’s a a rebel ex-cop, who’d rather pay attention to her than the Witness Security Program rules.
The books are available as e-pubs from Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks, and also available in print from Amazon.
HIDING FROM LOVE https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0159K3QBA/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
PROTECTED BY LOVE https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0159LGZ7G/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
TEMPTED BY LOVE https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0159M6IAE/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
ROMANCING THE GOLD
Available from MuseItUp, Amazon, Kobo, and Nook
Megan McKinley finds searching for gold fascinating when she meets attractive photographer Joseph Logan. However, he has a secret agenda, to discover who’s smuggling Peruvian artifacts.
This fall, you can follow Megan McKinley as she rediscovers the teacher she had a crush on as a studly, bearded photographer. Then she finds out that’s not the real reason he’s here, and that he suspects her of wrong doing.
ROMANCING THE GOLD
Megan McKinley basked in the warm sun. Here she was, sitting beside her friend, Paula, on a hard wooden board, on her way to Cuzco, Peru, in a donkey cart of all things. She took a deep breath of the clear, fresh air. She’d waited all year to take part in this archaeological expedition, and she’d already made a great find.
Noise from behind made her look back. A red car was creeping along beside them. A hulking man stepped out of the car.
“Hand over your purses,” he barked.
Megan’s stomach lurched. She couldn’t hand him her bag. Her debit card would allow access to the money she’d scrimped and saved to finish her master’s degree. Why the hell hadn’t she put it in her money belt? Now, she wished they hadn’t missed the archaeology camp’s van leaving for town. Her degree and this expedition were supposed to cinch that job at the Smithsonian. Ever since her parents took her to the museum as a child, Megan wanted to spend days and days there. She’d hoped she might soon have that chance, but now….
The driver cracked his whip and gave a command. The donkey brayed as the cart jerked forward. Every bump jarred her, while overworked muscles complained with twinges and aches from digging for artifacts.
The man with the bulging biceps continued to walk beside them.
“Stop!” he commanded, but their teenaged driver refused to comply.
Cropped, curly hair framed the stocky man’s brown-skinned face as he puffed on a cigarette. The acrid smoke set her nostrils quivering. The gun in his hand, although only palm-size, made her tremble. The dark-skinned car-driver, leaner, but just as mean looking, continued to keep pace with the donkey cart.
The man on foot pointed the gun directly at Megan. His eyes narrowed.
“Give me your purses,” he bellowed and motioned with his free hand.
Eagles collided in Megan’s stomach. A bead of sweat trickled down her neck. Her fingers tensed and her insides twisted even tighter. Staring at the barrel of the gun, she caught her breath. Dust from the dirt road swirled around, making it hard to breathe.
Preorder for $2.99 (half-price) from:
This book currently is available at MuseItUp Publishing but also at
See Carolyn Rae’s author page on MuseItUp.
An active member of the North Texas RWA, the Dallas Area Romance Authors, the Yellow Rose RWA and the DFW Writer’s Workshop, Carolyn Rae has written several novels, including a series featuring people in the Witness Security Program.
See Carolyn Rae’s author page on MuseItUpPublishing.com and her facebook author page at Carolyn Rae Author