Shelves: wtf , trainwreck-with-an-avalance-on-top , fell-off-my-chair-laughing , they-are-soo-unusual , nicely-done , just-a-bit-wrecky , best-h-smackdown-ever , be-happy-the-h-is-happy , bickery-bickerfest-temper-temper , cuddlesome-h This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Re The Secret Wife - Lynne Graham puts a nice twist on the mistaken for a mistress trope in this one. The h is named Rosie and when the story starts, she is twenty years old and has just lost her newly discovered father.
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Anton Estrada had been well-known in the city of London. The dim interior was crammed to capacity with those who wished to pay their last respects. A black gold-embroidered scarf covering her bowed head, Rosie shivered, lost in the dark well of her grief. As far back as she could remember she had been alone, but for a few agonisingly brief months she had had Anton. And now he was gone, that warm, laughing man, who had called her the joy he had waited for all his life and the greatest love of his existence.
Tears shimmering in her shadowed green eyes, she stared down at the huge ornate emerald on her finger until it blurred out of focus. Well, who would love her now? Who indeed would ever love her like that again? The silence and the soft murmur of voices finally penetrated. In a daze, she glanced up and realised that the service was over and the church was almost empty again. Disconcerted by her loss of concentration, she flew upright and headed for the exit.
A corner of her scarf caught on the end of a pew, jerking her head back, making her stumble. She would have fallen but for the strong, masculine hand that came out of nowhere to close round her slender forearm and steady her. Forgetting that her scarf was caught, she barely felt the pull as it trailed off and freed the wild, tumbling mass of her Titian hair from confinement. Involuntarily, she glanced up and froze in stark horror, her breath snarled up in her throat, her beautiful face stiffening like pale, tear-streaked marble into stricken stillness.
Sheer shock slowed her heartbeat to a numbing thud that echoed sickly in her eardrums. Constantine Voulos stared down at her, apparently entrapped by the same immobility that paralysed her. Luxuriant black hair, stunning bone structure and a wide, wickedly sensual mouth. A wave of dizziness engulfed her as she collided with mesmeric dark deep-set eyes.
Her bemused gaze locked with compulsive intensity to his. It was as terrifying as walking off a cliffedge and falling It panicked her. Rosie turned white as death and backed off on legs that were ready to buckle, a dark, ferocious wave of violent and confused emotion consuming her. Constantine Voulos, the child whom Anton and his Greek wife, Thespina, had raised as their own. It was a mistake. He caught her thin, trembling fingers in his. Rosie snatched her fingers back and raced down the steps.
The wintry breeze caught her curling torrent of hair and the long, loose black coat, making them flow out behind her like wings as she broke through the lingering groups of people outside and flew across the busy road, indifferent to the screeching brakes and honking horns that accompanied her dangerous passage.
Rosie wandered one last time round the silent rooms. Having eradicated every scrap of evidence that she had ever lived within these walls, she would slam the door behind her and walk back into her own world.
She cherished her freedom, yet she had allowed Anton to clip her wings. So they had built a bridge across the great divide of wealth and culture by making careful allowances on both sides, and ironically it had been remarkably easy for right from the beginning there had been this amazing sense of mutual recognition.
She had been lucky to have that much, she reflected painfully. Four months of perfect happiness was more than some people achieved in a lifetime. Four months of being loved passionately, unconditionally, selflessly. Good memories had taken the edge off the bad ones.
She swallowed the thickness of tears in her throat and smiled with sudden brilliance. Nobody could take those memories away. Or the ring that had been in the Estrada family for two centuries, the single surviving heirloom which Anton had slid onto her finger with unashamed tears in his dark eyes.
So I accepted one little memento; think yourself lucky, Constantine Voulos, for had I been greedy I could have taken far more! Because Anton had wanted to lay the world at her feet. His joy and pride in her had dangerously overwhelmed every other loyalty. That was the only thing they had ever argued about. And Rosie was guiltily conscious that it had been a struggle to keep her conscience in control. No, it had been the squirming attacks of resentment which she had fought to conceal, knowing just how much those feelings would have distressed him.
But she was human, fallible, as capable as anyone else of thinking sel f-pitying thoughts and experiencing envy. At the age of nine, Constantine Voulos had lost his parents in a car accident. Anton and Thespina had taken Constantine into their home and brought him up as if he were their own child. The silence began to get to Rosie. She shivered at the echo of her own footsteps. She should have cleared out the day Anton had died but she had been in such shock she had simply stopped functioning.
Only six weeks earlier, a mild heart attack had put him into hospital. And she had flushed hotly, avoiding his gaze, too many complex emotions swirling about inside her, too much guilt, too much pain.
Thespina had been his wife for over thirty years. A wonderfully loyal and loving wife, who had nonetheless been cruelly betrayed. And the simple fact that Thespina was unaware of that betrayal and indeed must be carefully protected from that knowledge did not make the brick-wall barrier of her very existence any more easy for Rosie to accept.
He was only fifty-five. He had been working too hard. Oh, they had talked endlessly about all the sensible things he would have to do in the future! It had occurred to neither of them that that future might be measured only in weeks. Rosie had replaced the receiver in silence. Naturally she could not attend his funeral in Greece.
Sick to the heart at her cruel exclusion, she had gone to the memorial service instead, only to run slap-bang into Constantine Voulos through her own clumsy lack of attention. That encounter yesterday had appalled Rosie.
She should have packed her bags long ago and gone home! But she had wanted privacy in which to come to terms with the loss of the father she had known for so painfully short a time. She jerked round in horror. Constantine Voulos was standing on the landing outside her bedroom. He was breathing fast, his hard, strikingly handsome features set in a dark mask of fury as he moved towards her. It was like being pinned to a wall by knives. With enormous effort, Rosie straightened her slim shoulders and stood her ground but she was deathly pale.
Rosie retreated until the backs of her knees hit the divan bed. How did you persuade Anton to do something so insane? Ironically that new knowledge brought a lump to her throat and warmed that cold place inside her as she thought of that dreadful day. Anton had not been alone but for his secretary. Constantine had been there, Constantine had been with him, and whether she liked it or not she knew just how much that would have meant to her father.
Constantine gave a great shout of raucous laughter that chilled her. Eyes black as night dug into her with unhidden repulsion. Hot, angry colour drove away her previous pallor. But at least she now understood what Constantine Voulos was doing here and why he was forcing such a confrontation. Evidently Anton had been foolish enough to leave her something in his will in spite of her fierce assurances that she wanted and needed nothing.
His nostrils flared as he surveyed her with dark fury. I actually laughed when she shared her fears with me! I convinced her that it was only the excitement of a new business venture which was making Anton spend so much time in London.
I was naive indeed. I underestimated the lure of youth and beauty on even the most honourable of men. Anton was obsessed with you She understood then. Evidently Constantine Voulos did not know who she was. Her tremulous mouth compressed into a bloodless line. Anton had kept their secret to protect his wife.
A twenty-one-year-old betrayal had gone to the grave with him. She owe d it to her father to keep faith with him. The truth would only cause greater pain and distress and for what gain? That would be wrong, morally wrong, she felt. The ring was different. It was her only tangible link to a heritage and a background she had lived all her life without. He glanced at the open suitcase, his hard mouth twisting. Possibly you were planning a brief trip somewhere but nothing will convince me that you were about to make a final departure.
The Secret Wife by Lynne Graham
Anton Estrada had been well-known in the city of London. The dim interior was crammed to capacity with those who wished to pay their last respects. A black gold-embroidered scarf covering her bowed head, Rosie shivered, lost in the dark well of her grief. As far back as she could remember she had been alone, but for a few agonisingly brief months she had had Anton. And now he was gone, that warm, laughing man, who had called her the joy he had waited for all his life and the greatest love of his existence. Tears shimmering in her shadowed green eyes, she stared down at the huge ornate emerald on her finger until it blurred out of focus. Well, who would love her now?
The Secret Wife
Rosie held the telephone at a distance from her ear. Hell, Rosie, you might have at least left the poor bloke a note! Last time I saw him he was mobilising the Greek police to look for you! It upset her to be at loggerheads with Maurice but it was time that he appreciated that she was no longer the terrified thirteen-year-old he had once saved from sexual assault. She clambered back onto the motorbike she had hired, trying not to think with miserly regret about the secret rainy-day account she had more than half-emptied in the space of three days. Her sparkling eyes hardened as she rode out of the sleepy little village and back onto the endless mountain road with its perilous bends and truly terrifying drops.
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