The Italian's Demand: Italians Husband by Sara Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don't think I've read very many Harlequin Presents where I liked and felt for the hero as much as I did for Vittore. He was a very good man whose heart had been ripped out when his dead wife stole his three month old baby. He barely existed until he gets a call from England that gives him a lead on where his son might be. When he gets there, he meets Verity, who is his wife's adopted sister. She's a beautiful, voluptuous vision that reminds him that he's been dead to his body's needs for over a year. Verity was appointed as Lio's guardian, unofficially, since her sister never legally divorced Vittore. He's determined to take his son back to Italy, but there's a problem. Lio has terrible separation anxiety, and he's completely bonded to Verity. Vittore decides that he needs to take Verity with them. It's a decision made a lot easier by his attraction to her.
Verity has fallen in love with young Lio. She started to believe that he would be her own child, since her sister is dead, and she thought that Vittore didn't even care about Lio. When Vittore arrives, it bursts her bubble, because she knows she doesn't have the right to deny him his son. She finds herself very attracted to her dead sister's husband, despite all the horrible lies that her sister told her about Vittore, that he was a heartless womanizer and a terrible husband.
There is a blazing attraction between the two from the very beginning, one that they both want to act on, on a visceral level. Vittore has made up his mind that Verity will be his mistress while she is in Italy with him, allowing Lio to get used to being with his real family. His strong attraction to Verity is too much to ignore. He hasn't felt like this over a woman in a long time. After losing his baby, he didn't think he could. They strike a bargain. If Lio doesn't get used to his father and new home in six months, Verity can bring him back to England. If it happens sooner than six months, Verity will become Vittore's lover. Although Vittore's motives don't seem pure, it's very clear that he's a good man. He has several opportunities to take advantage of Verity, since she's a sleep walker, and inadvertently comes onto him when she's sleeping. He treats Verity kindly, and encourages his people to show her respect, even though they all hate her sister. He finds himself falling deeply in love with Verity. She's everything her sister wasn't. I consider Vittore a good example of a beta hero. Caring, considerate, thoughtful, but strong-minded. He doesn't throw his weight around or try to intimidate Verity. He knows his rights for his son, and he's not afraid to fight for them. Even though he wants Verity, he doesn't play underhanded games about it. He's up front about his motives.
Verity soon comes to realize that her sister made up a flaming pack of lies about Vittore, and how bad a mother and a person her sister was. Her heart is breaking, because she knows she doesn't have any legal right to Lio, other than as an aunt, and she's falling in love with Vittore, but wants to be more than his lover and unofficial nanny. She can't believe this sophisticated, gorgeous man could want her when he had her glamorous sister as a wife, and his beautiful ex-betrothed is in the picture.
The emotions in this story were very intense. I felt for Verity, Vittore, and poor Lio. Verity's sister and Vittore's dead wife really created a horrible mess with her selfish behavior. But it turns out to be a good thing, because it brings these two kindred souls with a mutually strong love for baby Lio together. I really liked this book.
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