The Prince and the Wedding Planner
When different worlds collide…
With her family name on the line, wedding planner Bianca Bartolini needs this royal wedding to go perfectly—she can’t afford distractions. Too bad the bride’s dashing brother has other plans! Duty-bound Crown Prince Leo has mere weeks to announce his own engagement, but none of the candidates measure up to Bianca. They’re the most unlikely match, but might that just make them perfect for one another?
HEAT LEVEL: closed door love scene
“If you like a heaping dose of swoon, you will adore this romantic novel! Ms. Faye’s characters are clever, strong and realistic. This classy romance has a dash of mystery thrown in as well. I absolutely loved this book!” Romance Junkies
“This story is delightfully entertaining and charming. The premise is unique and fun, and I just love a good royal romcom. . . . Bianca and Prince Leo are quite adorable in close company, and I enjoyed reading their story. This was a fast read for me. In the end, it’s the kind of story that will make you smile!” Books and Zebras
“The author does a great job of writing this story, weaving together the many different issues going on, and giving readers a wonderful story that will stay with me for a while. Some couples I just can’t get off my mind, and this as one of them. If you enjoy romance, check this one out. It’s a pretty fast read, and will give you a few hours of enjoyment and entertainment.” Splashes of Joy
“I love Jennifer Faye’s books and The Prince and the Wedding Planner is no different. . . . I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy a quick, heartwarming and sweet romance.” Locks, Hooks and Books
Read an Excerpt
February, Tuscany, Italy
This was a living nightmare.
Bianca creaked open the door to her parents’ bedroom. She peered inside, just like she used to do when she was a little girl. She paused as though waiting to be bid entrance. That would never happen.
Bianca tentatively stepped into the room, her gaze hungrily taking in her surroundings. The bed was made just as her mother left it each morning. There was still an indentation on her father’s pillow as though his head had just been there—as though he would return to it that evening.
But that wasn’t to be the case.
Her parents had died. The acknowledgment made her heart clench. One minute they’d been vibrant and active. In the next moment, they’d died in a horrific vehicle accident.
They hadn’t been going anywhere special. It hadn’t been a special day. It had been a perfectly ordinary day on a perfectly ordinary ride to the city to do some ordinary shopping. And yet it had ended with extraordinarily horrific results.
The backs of Bianca’s eyes burned with unshed tears. She blinked repeatedly and sniffled. She had to pull herself together. Falling apart now wouldn’t help anyone.
The funeral had just concluded and the will was to be read shortly. Everything was being pushed into fast forward as the vineyard had to be maintained. Springtime would soon be here and work would kick into high gear. Without someone in charge, the Barto Vineyard would suffer—her father’s legacy would languish. His precious prize-winning grapes would wither on the vine.
The family’s attorney thought with the vineyard at stake, it was reason enough to push her and her two siblings to read the will today of all days—while she was still wearing her black dress from the funeral, while the estate was still filled with mourners that had come to pay their respects.
All Bianca wanted to do that day was remember her parents—to bask in the love that lived within the walls of this vast villa. She pushed the door closed before stepping further into the bedroom. It was here, within her parents’ suite of rooms, she felt closest to them.
It was here that her mother showed her how to put on makeup for the first time. It was here that her father had told her she could go away to university in the UK. Bianca walked around the spacious room, running her fingers over her mother’s elaborately carved dresser with the huge mirror suspended above it.
She picked up her mother’s silver hairbrush and noticed the few long dark strands of hair tangled around the bristles. The last of her mother. Tears clouded Bianca’s vision as she thought of never seeing her parents ever again. It still seemed so utterly inconceivable.
She kept walking around the room, her fingers tracing over all the things, that until just days ago, her parents had touched—had used. The thought tugged on her heart strings. How could they be here one moment and then gone the next?
Bianca pressed a shaky hand to her mouth, holding back a wave of emotion that threatened to drown her in unbearable sorrow. She struggled to make sense of it. Why had they been stolen away when they were still so vital—still so needed? When she still didn’t have their approval—their blessing for the choice she’d made about her path in life.
“Bianca, are you in there?” It was her brother’s voice.
“Yes.” She’d been found too soon.
The door creaked open and Enzo’s somber face met hers. Thankfully, he didn’t ask what she was doing in their parents’ room. She didn’t want to explain how she was grasping at anything that would make her feel close to them once more.
“Everyone is waiting for us downstairs in father’s study.”
The moment was at hand. Her parents’ final wishes would be known. And then the estate would be divvied up between her, her older brother and her younger sister. It would be so—so final. Her parents’ absence from their lives would be undeniable.
“I… I’ll be there.” She turned her back to him, not wanting him to see the unshed tears shimmering in her eyes. She could be strong like him. She could get through this agonizing day without crumbling into a million pieces.
She needed to think about anything but the hollow spot in her heart. She lifted her head and her gaze came to land on the old photos on the wall. It was a collage of her grandparents, her parents’ wedding and herself and her two siblings. They’d all looked so happy—
“Bianca, they loved you.” And then her brother exited the room, closing the door softly.
It was like her brother to cut through everything to get to the heart of the problem. Did her parents love her like they’d loved her siblings? She had her doubts.
Bianca paused next to her mother’s nightstand. It was there that she noticed her mother’s journal. She recalled coming across it as a child and her mother shooing her away. She’d asked her mother what she wrote in her journal and her mother said it was a way to vent or a chance to mark something memorable. Her mother didn’t write in it often. Her mother had said she liked to reflect upon where she’d come from, so she knew where she was going.
As a teenager, Bianca had tried keeping a journal of her own, but with two nosey siblings close to her own age, it didn’t go well. And when her little sister announced one evening at dinner that Alfio Costa had kissed Bianca after school, she had burned her journal and vowed never to write in one again.
She so desperately longed to hear the gentle lilt of her mother’s voice but she couldn’t recall it. It was like her mind had erased the memory. How could that be? If she was already forgetting her mother’s voice, how soon until she forgot what she looked like and their moments together?
She knew that she was being overly dramatic, but her emotions at the moment felt amplified. She didn’t know how to calm them. She picked up her mother’s journal. Her fingers traced over the buttery soft binding. Inside were her mother’s final words.
Her fingertip traced down over the gold gilded pages. Part of her wanted to open the cover and let her mother’s voice speak to her. And another part of her said not to do it. Whatever was written within those pages was none of her business. The struggle raged within her.
At last, she convinced herself a fair compromise was just to read a little bit. Just enough to hear her mother’s voice once more. One page. That was all. And then she’d put it away.
She let the book fall open to a random page. There was her mother’s very distinctive handwriting. Bianca would recognize it anywhere.
Her gaze hungrily took in every word. Once more, she could hear the lilt of her mother’s voice. It was as though she were there in the room with her. Her mother was speaking about her upcoming wedding anniversary. There was mention of a gap growing between Bianca’s parents and how her mother wanted to do something that would draw them back together again.
Bianca read the last lines of the page.
Has the past come back to haunt us? Has he truly forgiven me? Or does he blame me and my child…
Blame her? And one of her children? For what?
Not even pausing to consider the right and the wrong of it, Bianca flipped the page.
...for the affair.
Bianca’s breath lodged in her throat. Her mother had had an affair? How could that be? Her parents always seemed so much in love. How could this have happened?
Bianca dropped onto the edge of the bed, her legs no longer able to hold her up. Her mind grappled to understand the ramifications of this.
The door opened and her younger sister stepped inside. “Hey, Enzo said you were up here. Everyone is waiting for you. The attorney is looking a bit impatient…okay, a lot impatient.”
Bianca didn’t care about the attorney. This news altered everything she thought she knew about her parents—everything she believed about them—everything about her not living up to their expectations.
“Bianca, what is it?” Her sister moved across the room, stopping in front of her. “I know this is hard for you. It’s hard on all of us—”
“It’s not that.” She didn’t know if she should say something to her sister about the affair. Maybe it was best she just left it alone. Was that even possible? This was a bombshell. And it would blow apart her family—
“Hey,” Gia grabbed the journal out of her hands, “this is Mamma’s journal. What are you doing with it?”
Guilt washed over Bianca. “I… I just needed to hear her voice—to feel like she was still here.”
“And so you thought you’d read her private thoughts.”
“It was only one page and then…” Bianca stopped herself. Should she share what she’d learned? How could she not? This changed everything.
“And then what?”
Bianca shook her head. She didn’t want her sister to endure further pain. “Nothing.”
Her sister studied her for a moment. “It was something all right.” Gia lifted the still open journal and read the page. By the bottom line, her mouth gaped and her eyes were rounded. “Seriously?”
Bianca shrugged her shoulders. She wasn’t sure what to say. At least she wasn’t the only one who didn’t know about this affair.
Enzo opened the door. “What’s going on with you two? Everyone is waiting downstairs for us?”
Gia motioned for him to come in. “Close the door.”
He did as she asked. When he stopped in front of them, he asked, “Why are you reading Mamma’s journal? You need to put it back. It’s none of your business.”
When he went to reach for the journal, Gia was too fast for him. She leaned back on the bed, out of his reach.
Bianca spoke up. “It was only going to be one page. Just enough to feel like Mamma wasn’t totally gone. And then—”
“Then we discovered something. Something big.”
Enzo shook his head. “Whatever it is. It’s none of our business.”
“Did you know Mamma had an affair?” Gia blurted out.
“What? No. That can’t be right. She wouldn’t do something like that.” He shook his head as though to chase away the troubling thought. He stepped back from them, distancing himself from the world-shattering news.
Gia scooted back on the big bed, crossed her legs and focused on the journal. She started to read their mother’s troubling words. Bianca’s gaze stayed on her brother, watching him as the wave of emotions washed over him. It was obvious that he hadn’t known about this affair. And the journal didn’t say when it’d taken place.
Gia turned the page.
He said that he still loved me and forgave me for what happened, but when we fight, when the distance looms between us, I wonder if he remembers that bad time in our marriage when we separated.
I was so sure that he was never coming back. That we would end up divorced. Days turned to weeks and then to months. I was weak and let a handsome man sweet-talk me into his bed. I’ve never regretted anything so much in my life. And then the worst happened…
“Stop,” Enzo said. “This is wrong.”
“I can’t stop,” Gia said. “This affects us all.”
Enzo shook his head. “I don’t want to know.” Then his gaze narrowed and his voice shook with anger. “Isn’t it enough that we lost both of them? Do we have to do this today?”
He might not need to know but Bianca couldn’t live with the not knowing. What could be worse than her mother cheating on her father? Bianca needed answers as much as she needed oxygen.
As her sister argued with their brother, Bianca grabbed the journal from her. Her siblings’ voices faded into the background as she took in her mother’s words.
And then the worst happened. I became pregnant. Aldo said he’d forgiven me and would accept the baby as his own…
Wait. What? One of the three siblings wasn’t a true Bartolini? Bianca’s gaze hungrily sought out the next words, anxious to know that the family she’d known all her life was truly hers—that she wasn’t an outsider.
…but now I wonder if he meant it or if he just accepted the baby because our families were pressuring both of us to get back together.
Am I overthinking his words? Maybe he just spoke in the heat of the moment. Tonight, when he comes in from the vineyard, we’ll talk. It’s the only way to fix things.
Who? Who isn’t a Bartolini? Frustration, anger and sorrow churned in her stomach, making her nauseated. The journal was jerked out of her grasp before she could turn the page.
Enzo held the journal. Anger sparked in his eyes. “Stop! We’re not doing this. We have a will to read. We have our parents to mourn. The past must stay in the past.”
“What are you going to do with the journal?” Gia asked.
“I’m taking it downstairs and burning it in the fireplace—”
“No.” Bianca jumped off the bed. “You can’t do that.”
“Because one of us isn’t a Bartolini. And that’s the only key to the past.”