Theresa Chartley has no time for marriage, and no room for disappointment–especially with French soccer player Emile Renaud. Sure, he’s gorgeous, but he’s wrong for a career woman like Theresa. If only her mother would stop pressuring her to get married and let her live her own life. Finding a very unsuitable husband to shock her parents into silence and put an end to the marriage campaign is the only answer. Emile will do just fine.
Theresa’s outrageous proposal is the answer to Emile’s problem. They’re complete opposites living in different worlds, but a fake marriage will let him ditch his clingy ex once and for all. Then he’ll be free of commitment and free to live his life the way he wants to.
A contract. Twelve months. And they walk away scot-free. But a year of marriage tests them both in unimaginable ways. Maybe Emile isn’t unsuitable after all, but how can Theresa let herself love him when she signed a contract to let him go?
An Unsuitable Husband is a 50,000 word category romance novel.
The heavy thud of the beat blocked out all other rhythms. Every thought, every breath, every heartbeat drummed in time with the music. Theresa Chartley set her drink down and threaded her way through the crowds to the middle of the dance floor. Bodies on all sides formed a tiny cocoon, sheltering her as she gave herself over to the beat. The strong, deep pulse soothed her like nothing else could, giving her mind time to rest and the stresses in her subconscious a chance to seep away while she moved instinctively. In the music, she could be fully in the moment and it was bliss.
Half an hour later, she made her way back to the table and grabbed her bottle of water. She scanned the dark room to check on the friend she had come with. Julie’s distinctive white-blonde hair was easy to spot through the mass of people on the floor. Theresa watched her friend wrap herself around a guy so that their two bodies moved together perfectly. Briefly, Julie raised her head and caught Theresa’s eye. She winked. No rescue required there.
Theresa hadn’t come to the club to meet a guy. She’d come to forget about meeting guys. She’d called Julie on the way home from her parents’ house and arranged an evening designed to block out her mother’s latest insane plans. Melanie Chartley’s mission in life was to see her daughter married. She wanted the village church in June, decked with pink roses and white lilacs. She wanted Theresa in an ivory silk gown and all the men in top hats and tails. Mostly, Theresa suspected, she wanted a reason to boast to all her friends. For years, Melanie had dropped hints, subtle and not so subtle, but since Theresa’s thirtieth birthday, she’d stepped up the pressure and now she’d decided to take action. Next weekend, Theresa was expected to visit her mother so she could meet Hetta Black’s son.
“He’s a few years older than you, darling,” Melanie had told her over the phone, “but still very handsome. And you mustn’t mind about the children. They’re away at boarding school most of the time.”
“Children?” she’d repeated in horror.
“Oh, didn’t I say? He’s a widower, poor thing. But he’s been very brave about it, and now the children are old enough, he’s looking for someone new.”
“He won’t be looking for someone like me.”
“Don’t be silly, dear. You can be quite pretty when you make the effort.”
Theresa had closed her eyes and counted to three. “I meant that he won’t want a wife with a career like mine. I frequently work fourteen hour days, and I don’t have time for shopping, cooking, or chasing around after teenage children.” She didn’t have the energy to invest in that sort of relationship, either, but that was beyond her mother’s ability to comprehend. Short, self-contained flings with minimal emotional involvement suited Theresa best. Messy, complicated long-term commitments scared the hell out of her, especially the kind that came with a ring and a legally-binding promise.
“Well, naturally you wouldn’t continue with your job when you’re married.”
She’d hung up. There was no chance of convincing her mother and no point having the familiar argument all over again.
She’d call later in the week and make sure lunch was cancelled. And pray that Timothy Black found someone more suitable very soon.
But here in the club tonight, there was no reason to think about her mother and her suitable widowers. No need to think about anything. Just feel the music. Just feel the moment. She swayed her hips, letting the rhythm of the beat sink into her until she could feel it pulsing through her veins. She threw her head back, closed her eyes, and let herself dance as though no one was watching.
It took her a while to notice the guy. He was behind her, but he was matching his moves to hers. She could feel his breath in warm, soft ripples against her neck. His hips just brushed against the curve of her bottom. His shoulder occasionally bumped into hers, but when his hand slid around her waist, there was no mistaking it. No mistaking the delicious shudder of sexual attraction that shot straight through her, either. Her body knew he’d make love with the same perfect timing.
They danced for hours, her back against his chest, mirroring and matching and making love with their fully clothed bodies. Eventually, the dance floor was almost empty, but Theresa didn’t want to be the one to break their connection and she sensed he felt the same. The club was a protected bubble away from reality. As soon as they stopped moving, the magic would dissolve.
He didn’t break the rhythm when his lips brushed against her ear. “My place?”
Julie had left with her guy hours earlier. Theresa leaned back against his chest. She wasn’t in the habit of hooking up with random men in clubs. On the other hand, whoever this guy was, he wouldn’t be dragging her off to see the vicar and expecting her to say “I do” any moment now. “Why not?”
He spun her round and pulled her in so they were face-to-face for the first time. She slid her arms around his neck and pressed herself deliberately along the length of his body. His eyes gleamed for an instant and then darkened as he bent and claimed her lips.
Maybe it was the recklessness of kissing a stranger, maybe it was the hours of foreplay on the dance floor, or maybe it was just him. Whatever it was, Theresa had never experienced such a rush of desire from a simple kiss. One of his hands rested lightly against her bottom and the other curled into her short hair. She squirmed into his touch, silently urging him to stroke and explore and push her senses further out into the stratospheric levels of lust he’d already evoked. But his kiss remained steady and somehow that just made her long for more.
The cab ride was agonizing. Buckled in on opposite sides of the back seat, he stretched out his arm so his fingers rested on the nape of her neck. She didn’t dare move closer. Taxi sex was really not on her agenda, even on a reckless night like this. She just hoped he lived somewhere nearby, because the beat of the music was still throbbing in her blood, and her breath was still coming as fast as if she were dancing hard. Touching without looking had been incredibly arousing. Looking without touching was unreasonable torture.
He had dark hair, slightly longer than her mother would consider respectable, curled over his collar and flopped on his forehead. Visible stubble shadowed his strong jaw but did nothing to disguise the sensuality of his full lips and wide mouth. Hooded eyes regarded her with smoldering lust that made her breath hitch. She turned away in an attempt to take hold of herself.
“Not long now, chérie.”
She hadn’t noticed the accent in his brief, murmured words earlier. “You’re French?”
“Indeed.” He leaned lazily back against his seat but his fingers ceased to trace patterns at her neck.
“Is it true what they say about French men?”
“That depends what they say.”
God, that accent was sexy, especially when delivered in his deep, husky voice.
“That they make the most incredible…” She paused, and he raised an eyebrow at her. “…food.”
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50,000 word category romance