Dear Reader,

For many years now a hugely popular theme in category romance has been The Secret Baby plot. It’s a plot that has changed or evolved over the last twenty or so years however, as many younger female readers have found it harder to understand why a woman wouldn’t inform a man that he is to become a father. Isn’t it his absolute right to know?

I have done several secret baby stories now: The Secret Baby Bargain, The Marciano Love Child and now this one: The Unclaimed Baby. Each of my heroines has a different reason for not being able to tell the hero of the existence of a child and it is a very good one. I made sure of that!

In the first of my Sabbatini Brother’s Trilogy - The Unclaimed Baby we meet Luca Sabbatini, the middle brother. He made a decision to cut Bronte Bennett from his life without giving her any explanation as to why. Struggling with a health issue that he worried would leave him disabled or worse, he decides to end their love affair. It is a heart-wrenching decision for him and of course it breaks Bronte’s heart. But he knew if he had told her of his illness she would have stuck by him and he felt it would have ruined her life. Such heroic qualities but oh how they backfired on him!

Bronte desperately wanted to tell Luca she was pregnant but he had blocked all contact after their break up. Emails bounced back, calls were not returned and letters were sent back unopened. Now, two years on Luca steps back into her life. She is still furiously angry at how he ended their affair and yet she can’t stop herself from falling in love with him all over again. But what will he do when he finds out he has fathered a child?

I really enjoyed writing this story as I really felt for Luca who had done what he thought was the right and honorable thing. He chose loneliness over love because he didn’t want to burden Bronte with a possible negative outcome of the treatment he sought for his illness. But then I really felt for gorgeous Bronte who had had to struggle alone with a young child when all she had wanted was to be with Luca and live happily ever after. I hope you enjoy the first of The Sabbatini Brothers Trilogy.

Happy reading,

Melanie Milburne



Excerpt from The Unclaimed Baby

© Melanie Milburne


As the lift soared to the penthouse floor Bronte looked at Luca from beneath her lowered lashes.  He had a frown of concentration on his forehead and there were twin lines of tension running on either side of his mouth.  His arms were hanging by his sides, but she saw him clench and unclench his hands as if he was mentally preparing himself for something.

“I thought you would be used to the intrusion of the media by now,” she said into the humming silence.

He turned his head to look at her.  “Believe me, Bronte, you never get used to it.  Do you know what it’s like having every moment of your life documented?  The lack of privacy is unbelievable.  There are times when I cannot even have a cup of coffee without someone wanting to take a picture.  It drives me completely crazy.”

“I guess it’s the price of success,” she said.  “You were born into an extremely wealthy family.  The public are fascinated by how the other half lives.”

He gave her a quirky smile as the lift stopped at his floor.  “Are you fascinated, cara?”

She pursed her lips and stepped past him, holding her head at a proud angle.  “You and your family hold no fascination for me whatsoever.  I have too much to do in my own life to be keeping track of someone else’s.”

As they came to the correct number he inserted his key card into the penthouse suite door and held it open for her to preceed him.  “So you haven’t kept yourself up to date on all my affairs over the last two years?” he asked.

Bronte spoke without thinking.  “There’s been hardly anything about you in the papers and magazines.  It always seems to be about your brothers.  It’s as if you disappeared off the face of the earth the first year after we broke up.”

He gave her a long thoughtful look as he closed the door behind him.  “For a time that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” he said, leading the way through to the large lounge.  “What would you like to drink?” he asked over his shoulder.

Bronte was still thinking about why he’d wanted to disappear without a trace.  There had been something in his tone that seemed tinged with regret and a part of her wondered if it had something to do with her.

Of course not!  she chided herself crossly.  He was a playboy who had had numerous affairs before she had come along.  The only thing that might have set her apart was her innocence and naivety.  He had obviously found that a novelty and was hoping for a rerun.  She could see it in the dark depths of his eyes every time they meshed with hers.  She felt the rush of her blood too, which reminded her rather timely that she was not quite as immune to him as she would have liked.

“Bronte?” he prompted, holding up a bottle of champagne.

“Oh...yes, thanks,” she said, feeling gauche and awkward.

After a moment he handed her a fizzing glass of French champagne, the price of which, Bronte noted, would have paid her last electricity bill, not just for her granny flat but most probably the studio as well.

“To us,” he said, touching his glass against hers.

Bronte hesitated before she took a sip.  Luca watched her quizzically, one brow slightly elevated.  “Not to your taste, Bronte?” he asked.

“The champagne, I am sure is lovely,” she said.  “It’s what we’re toasting to that is not palatable.”

He held her flinty look with consummate ease.  “You choose then,” he suggested, holding his glass just in reach of hers.  “What shall we drink to?”

Bronte raised her glass and clinked it against his.  “To moving on.”

His brow went up a little higher this time. “Interesting,” he said musingly.  “Does this mean the man you are seeing is a permanent fixture in your life?”

Bronte wished she could say yes.  And if it was anyone but David Brougham she might well have done so.  She felt she needed an excuse, a good excuse, not to see Luca again.  It was just too dangerous; not because of Ella, but because of how he made Bronte feel.  She could feel emotions bubbling under the surface even now.  Dangerous emotions: needs that ached to be fulfilled, longings that wouldn’t be suppressed, no matter how hard she tried.

She was supposed to hate him.

She did hate him.

He had abandoned her, leaving her when she was so vulnerable and alone.  And yet one meeting with him and her mind was filling with images of them together: him kissing her, his lips sealing hers with such passion, his arms around her body, holding her against the surging heat and potency of his.  How could she forget how he made her feel?  Would there ever be a time when she would not feel her heart twist and ache when she heard his name mentioned or saw it in print?  Would she ever be able to forgive him for not loving her, for not event respecting her enough to say goodbye face to face?

“You seem to be taking rather a long time to answer my question,” Luca observed.  “Which can only mean one thing: you are not seriously involved with him.  If you were madly in love with someone, surely you would have no hesitation in telling me.”

Bronte drank some of her champagne, stalling for time, for courage, for anything.  “It seems to me it wouldn’t matter to you how I answers.  You have your own agenda.  That’s what this little tête à tête is all about, isn’t it?”

He wandered over to one of the massive leather sofas and indicated for her to sit down.  He waited until she was perched on the edge of one of the cushions before he spoke.  “I want to see you, Bronte.  Not just tonight.  Not even just now and again.”  He waited a beat, his eyes intense and unwavering on hers.  “I want to see you as much as possible while I am here.  I want you back.”

Amazon Barnes & Noble eHarlequin




Contest!


To celebrate the release of the first book in her The Sabbatini Brothers Trilogy, Melanie is hosting a special contest just for NewsWire readers! For a chance to win, please visit Melanie's website at http://www.melaniemilburne.com.au and find the answer to the following question -

The UK and Australian versions of The Unclaimed Baby have a slightly different title. What is it?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with the answer and be sure to include your full name and mailing address in the email.   Please also remember to mark the subject heading as 'UnclaimedBaby'.

Do make sure you email your answers only to staff@authorsoundrelations.com or your entry will not be counted!

Four winners will be contacted shortly after May 16th, 2011.

1st Prize: $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a book from Melanie's backlist.
2nd Prize: $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a book from Melanie's backlist
3rd & 4th Prizes: A book from Melanie's backlist.

Good luck!

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