One of my favourite themes in writing romance, is that of lovers reunited – the reunion story. When a couple have once been lovers - once so very close, intimate in all ways that a man and woman can be, and then are torn apart by some action of Fate, some terrible mistake on the part of one – or both of them – the fact that they once cared so much makes the pain of the break-up so much worse to bear. When my hero and heroine have once felt a deep, passionate love and something comes along to destroy that feeling then where there once was a deep love, now there is a deep, deep pain. The loss of the feeling they once had leaves a real emptiness inside. And they close themselves off from the source of that loss – the person they once loved.
In The Proud Wife, Marina and Pietro married in a rush, early in their relationship, because she was pregnant. They were still in that wildly passionate first stage of love, when you just live for the other person and you’re blind to everything else. And the baby just seemed like the icing on the cake. But when Marina miscarried, their relationship was tested cruelly. Grief does terrible things to people. Some couples can be drawn together by it, others, like Marina and Pietro, are torn apart.
But two years later, they both know things can’t go on as they are. They’re just treading water, not getting on with their lives. They need to resolve the situation, sort out the mess their marriage has become. And when he hears that Marina seems to have a new man in her life, Pietro appears to have made up his mind how things are going to be. He sends a letter to his wife, summoning her to the pallazo she once ran from in distress, to discuss their divorce. Because, obviously, if they don’t have a marriage then they need to divorce – don’t they? But is this a genuine decision or a ploy to get Marina back where they have to face each other – and face the mistakes they made in the past? And when Marina arrives, believing that the one thing she only ever truly wanted – his love – is the one thing Pietro will never give her, she’s totally determined that she won’t take anything else from him. But from their very first meeting, there in the lawyer’s office, it’s so obvious that there is still so much between them – if only they can work through the pain of the past.
They don’t find it easy. They’re both proud, determined people. Both hurt by the past and scared of going through that pain all over again. But they both know that no one else has ever made them feel the way they make each other feel. So can they find a way to put the past behind them, put right the mistakes they made, and create for themselves a new future – together?
You’ll have to read The Proud Wife to find out!
I hope you love reunion stories - lovers into enemies turning back into lovers all over again - to read as much as I do to write them. It seems that a lot of people do because a reunion story I wrote last year - The Konstantos Marriage Demand - has just been named the Best Presents Extra 2010 by the Romantic Times Reviewers. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am by this news. The Konstantos Marriage Demand was one of my personal favourites and I was so happy to know that the reviewers thought so too. And it seems that they love The Proud Wife too - I've just learned that the Romantic Times has given this book 4 1/2 stars as well and said that it's "an emotionally charged page-turner with plenty of tension and passion." Another reviewer on the Mills & Boon site has described The Proud Wife as 'a Modern classic'.
So to celebrate I’m including a copy of The Konstantos Marriage Demand in with the prizes for my contest - along with a copy of my newest reunion story - The Proud Wife. I hope you enjoy them both.
With all warmest wishes –
Excerpt from The Proud Wife
© Kate Walker
‘Might I remind you that we are at present only separated.’ There was an odd edge to Pietro’s voice, one that roughened it shockingly at the edges. ‘We are not yet divorced.’
‘Not yet,’ Marina admitted. ‘But it can’t come soon enough for me. I just want it over and done with – signed and sealed so that I can get out of here with my freedom and never look back.’
‘In that case,’ Pietro returned imperturbably, ‘then perhaps you will let ‘poor Matteo’ - he echoed her words mockingly – ‘get on with things.’
But Marina had had enough.
‘No, I don’t think so. I don’t think we will ‘get on with things’.’
She pushed back her chair, thought about getting to her feet, but then hesitated. A few moments more and it would have much more effect. She was actually quite enjoying seeing Pietro off balance for once. He didn’t quite know how to take her - and for now that was exactly how Marina wanted it.
‘What things, Pietro?’
She directed the question straight into his watchful face, seeing the faint scowl that drew his dark brows together over narrowed frowning eyes.
‘What things? More terms? More conditions? More dictates from the great lord and master, Il Principe D’Inzeo?’
‘Marina...’ Pietro’s use of her name was low-toned, deep, a strong note of reproof on the single word.
‘More ‘thou shalt do this’ and ‘thou shalt not do that’? Thou shalt not speak to the press – do you really think I’d want to let the scandal mags know the truth about our marriage?’
She was letting her tongue run away with her but somehow she couldn’t even bring herself to care. This was why she had come here, why she had felt she had to put herself through the ordeal of seeing Pietro one last time. She had wanted to try to voice, partly at least, the things she had never been able to say when they had been married. To try to provoke him into reacting. Into something other than that carefully measured icy distance which was all that he had showed her in the end. All that the once heady, burning passion had burned down into, cold and ashy
‘Do you think I’d want the whole nasty, dirty mess spread out all over the tabloids – our dirty washing hung out to dry in full view of the public?’
It was definitely dangerous now, definitely a warning. His eyes were blazing cold fury, and the hand that had held the water glass now drummed a warning tattoo on the polished table top. But it was a warning that Marina was well past heeding. She had the bit between her teeth, and she wasn’t going to be called to order by anyone.
‘You think you can toss me some instructions and if I want your money I’ll do as I’m told, follow your conditions to the letter.’
‘I think you’d better listen to what those conditions are.’
Marina shook her head firmly, sending her auburn ponytail flying with the deliberate emphasis she put on the movement.
‘I don’t need to hear them’
She heard Pietro’s breath hiss in sharply, watched his sharp white teeth snap together and the muscles in his jaw tighten ominously.
‘Marina – you came here so that we could discuss the terms of our divorce in a civilised manner.’
That had really shocked him and the rush of triumph she felt as a result had a devastatingly intoxicating result, rushing through every nerve and vein like the powerful effect of some richly potent brandy.
‘No – that’s not what I came here for. In fact these whole ‘discussions’ are nothing to me. Because you see...’
And now was the time for her to get to her feet, pushing back her chair so that it almost overbalanced with the force of her action. Now was the time for her to stand upright so that Pietro had to look up to her as she straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin and looked straight down her nose at him.
‘I only have to follow your instructions, agree to your ‘conditions’ if I want anything from you. That was the bargaining card you thought you held- the one that gave you some sort of power over me. But you were wrong.’
Stooping to pick up the document case she had brought in with her, she turned it in her hands until it was in just exactly the right position. And her defiant green eyes met his coldly assessing blue ones with as much determination and strength as she could muster.
‘You only hold those bargaining cards if I take anything at all from you – that’s what you counted on and that was where you went wrong. Because you see, your high and mightiness, Principe Pietro Raymundo Marcello D’Inzeo – I want nothing at all from you - nothing.’
She had to pause for breath there and when she did she expected that he would break in on her, that he had to say something, But still Pietro sat immobile, still as a sphinx. He barely even seemed to be breathing he was so motionless, so ruthlessly in control. Only his eyes burned with something so fierce, so dangerous, that just for a moment Marina’s heart lurched, her nerves stuttering. Then she pulled herself together , drew a deep, unsteady breath and rushed on.
‘I came here today not to discuss terms but to tell you them. ‘
Zipping open the leather case she pulled out a sheaf of papers that exactly matched the one in front of both Pietro and Matteo. The one from which the lawyer had been reading the list of conditions.
‘I’ve been given your offer of a divorce settlement and I’ve decided to reject it – totally and completely.’
At last Pietro moved. Even if it was only his mouth that opened to speak, deadly and low.
‘Then you’ll get...’
‘Then I’ll get exactly what I want, husband dear – exactly what I came here to tell you I’ll take from you. And the answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because I came into this marriage with nothing and I’m going out of it with exactly the same. So you can take your divorce settlement and put it – put it wherever you like. Because I want none of it!’
As she finished speaking she tossed to document down on to the table in front of Pietro where it landed with a heavy thud, the impact throwing up the loosened pages and sending them, flying up into the air, straight into her husband’s icily controlled and rigid face.
Kate is really excited about her new release and the Best Presents Extra award for The Konstantos Marriage Demand, and to celebrate, she's hosting a contest just for you! For a chance to enter, just visit Kate's website and find the answer to the following question:
Where does Pietro summon Marina to join him?
Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer by midnight on April 11th, 2011. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'The Proud Wife'.
1st prize: A $25.00 gift certificate from Amazon and a copy of The Kostantos Marriage Demand and The Proud Wife.
2nd, 3rd and 4th prizes: A copy of The Kostantos Marriage Demand and The Proud Wife.