The Royal Treatment: A Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy, Book 1, страница 1
The Royal Treatment
~ a crown jewels romantic comedy ~
Copyright © 2017 by Gretz Corp.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Praise For Melanie Summers
A Note from Melanie
Praise For Melanie Summers
“A fun, often humorous, escapist tale that will have readers blushing, laughing and rooting for its characters.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
I was totally gripped to this story. For the first time ever the kindle came into the bath with me. This book is unputdownable. I absolutely loved it. ~ Philomena (Two Friends, Read Along with Us)
Very rarely does a book make me literally hold my breath or has me feeling that actual ache in my heart for a character, but I did both.” ~ Three Chicks Review for Netgalley
What other authors so often fail, MJ championed in this book: in many books this long process of will they/won’t they is just too long and after some time it loses the whole appeal... but it was not flat or boring for a second, it was all the time gripping and had you on the tips of your toes.
It is a brilliant love story written with a lot of feeling.MJ Summers can really write a hot romance with great characters in it, full of misunderstandings, twist and turns, heartbreaks and hurt but still with a lot of joy and that is a great entertainment.~ On My Book Shelf Review Blog
“I inhaled this book… Riveting sexual heat… a delicious and definite five star read.”
~ Jennifer Sage, Author of The Guardian Archives Series
STEAMY OFFERINGS by MJ…
The Full Hearts Series
Break in Two
Don’t Let Go – Prequel to Breaking Love - E-book only
Letting Go - Prequel to Breaking Clear & The Break-up
Reckless in Rio (A Love at the Games Novella)
To every woman who will read this book,
and to the little girl inside of you who played dress up on a rainy day,
and danced on your dad’s feet.
I hope you laugh.
I hope you love.
I hope you believe in yourself because you are enough.
I wrote this book because I needed to laugh. I need to escape. I needed to sigh happily.
The phone rang on Halloween morning (one of my very favourite days of the year), and by the time I hung up, everything had changed. Suddenly, my tough-as-nails dad was fighting stage three cancer in his lungs and lymph nodes. News no one wants to hear. News that knocks a person on her ass.
I was faced with the very real possibility of losing my father—the man who raised me (alongside my mom) and who had the wisdom to stand back and let me be frustrated and let me fail (sometimes spectacularly), then helped to pick me up, dust myself off and keep going. He’s the kind of dad I can always call when life’s getting me down or when I have something to celebrate, whether big or small. What would I do if I didn’t have him to chat with about nothing for hours at a time? Who would I laugh with about the absurdities of life?
It’s funny how the brain works. In only a few minutes, I was rendered incapable of writing the very serious women’s fiction book I’d been working on. But a writer’s mind must create. It cannot stop. And so, the flood gates of humour opened up wide, and Tessa and Arthur’s story came pouring out.
I wrote and wrote and, at times, laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. And at the same time, my dad fought with everything he has. On Easter Monday, he called and just as quickly as the crisis started, it ended. He’s in full remission, and we’ve been given the incredible gift of more time, more phone calls, more celebrations.
Some of you will be facing your own crisis when you pick up this book. I hope that your story will end as happily as mine.
My greatest wish as a writer is to make you laugh, and let you escape, and cause you to sigh happily.
With much love and gratitude,
A Special Note from Prince Arthur, Duke of Wellingbourne
I hate to tell you this, ladies, but if you’ve ever watched a Hollywood film—or even worse—a made-for-TV movie about a royal family, you’ve been served up a steaming plate of horseshit. I know, because I am the Crown Prince of Avonia, but I’m not just speaking for myself. Several of my closest friends are also princes or dukes from various countries around the world. We’ve discussed it and we all agree—the film and romance book industry has done us all a great disservice by setting up unrealistic expectations of what it means to date and/or marry a member of the Royal Family.
For example, if we met at a party, and you lost your shoe, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that I will not be going door-to-door trying to return it to you, no matter how beautiful you are. First of all, it’s a shoe, so, you can easily slip over to the store for another pair. Second, if you’re too stupid to realize you’re only wearing one shoe, you and I aren’t going to exactly be long term. I might shag you if the opportunity arises, but beyond that, we’re done.
If you were previously under the impression that I would chase you down with your sweaty high heel on a pillow, then you may also be under several other falsely held beliefs, such as the following:
That I wake to the sound of birds singing at my windowsill, am fed breakfast in bed by a maid with a little white cap tied to her head (what are those caps for, anyway?), then I lie about in the drawing room reading books all morning whilst my sister, Princess Arabella, plays harp. I spend my afternoons on a hunt with a gaggle of dukes, then dine on eight-course dinners with women in glittery gowns and elbow-length gloves, after which I retire to the library to smoke cigars and drin
Other than the part about having crowns locked away in a vault, servants sidling around all the time (who, by the way, provide enough jump scares to make my life the reboot of Stephen King’s IT), and the stretch limos, the movies have it dead wrong.
Here is my typical day: An alarm clock wakes me at precisely six o’clock every morning except Sunday, when I am able to sleep in until seven-thirty (lucky me). I then dress in gym clothes and do a one-hour mixed marital arts training session with my head of security, Ollie, to keep my body in top princely condition. I shower, eat breakfast at the kitchen counter while I am briefed on my itinerary by my senior adviser, Vincent Hendriks, who, most of the time, smells like blue cheese for reasons I do not wish to uncover. I spend the rest of the day either attending incredibly tedious meetings, or visiting ghastly depressing places such as the children’s hospital. If I am lucky, I dine alone, downing a few beers to help me forget the sallow faces of those brave, sick kids. If I am not lucky enough to have the evening to myself, I must soldier on with my best Prince Charming smile while dining with visiting dignitaries and their blushing wives.
I’m a bit of a hit with the wives, by the way. The husbands? Not so much.
If the world were run by women, (which it probably should be—I mean, look at how quickly those ladies running Iceland got the country out of bankruptcy a few years back? No pissing around. They quickly threw the bankers in jail and pulled the economy up by its boot straps and BOOM! Back on track) … anyway, if the world were run by women—in particular the wives with whom I dine—our little kingdom would be the international leader in trade. And I wouldn’t be in the middle of the shitstorm that has descended upon me today…
Good Men, Payphones, and Other Things That No Longer Exist
“Oh, bugger!” The car speeds off while laughter spills from the open windows.
“You little… tramps!” I holler, which only makes them laugh harder. I’m only twenty-eight, but to them I’m a dripping wet, middle-aged hag, and my use of the word ‘tramps’ only confirms it for them. But I will not swear. There are children standing nearby. Oh, I did say bugger, didn’t I? Shit.
My new white jeans and favourite suede boots are now soaked and covered in mud. This is literally the third time in two years that I have been the victim of the ‘bowling for losers’ game that has been held at this spot for, oh, I don’t know, forever. There’s a dip in the pavement all the way along the front of the bus transfer station, and because the station is backed by an eight-foot brick wall, there’s nowhere to hide. After any big rain, teenagers appear out of nowhere to play.
To be honest, it is kind of fun if you’re one of the teenagers crammed into the car with your friends. I’m ashamed to say I did it once and it was a bit of a thrill, in a scary, exciting, let’s-do-something-really-naughty-that-will-bond-us-forever sort of way. Oh, my God! What if we get caught?
But then, as soon as it was over, I looked back at our victim. She was dressed for a party and even the wrapping paper on the fancy silver box she was holding was dripping wet. We totally killed her day for a few seconds of entertainment. I begged my friends to turn back so we could give her a ride, but, as it turns out, teenagers don’t like to have their fun spoiled, and after that, I had a few less friends. But it didn’t really matter. I had already grown accustomed to being an outcast long before puberty hit.
I’m currently on the way to my childhood home for yet another dreaded family dinner. Being the only girl of five children, I’ve always had plenty of reasons that I didn’t fit in—lack of penis, lack of testicles, lack of interest in football. Things have only gotten worse over the years instead of better, with my brilliant brothers moving up in the world, while I have recently dropped down a few rungs on the job ladder. These days, my brothers tease me relentlessly about being ‘the dullest sharp in the Sharpe family.’ Ha. Ha. Ha.
As the bus barrels toward Abbott Lane, I shrink from a relatively confident, reasonably intelligent woman to an awkward, horribly insecure fourteen-year-old. I’ll spend the next twenty-three minutes hoping the bus breaks down or is hijacked by terrorists (but only if Keanu Reeves gets on first), then the next several hours wishing I had managed to dream up the perfect excuse to skip this evening’s dinner.
In the past two years, I’ve already used horrible cramps (tried and true, especially if my dad answers the phone), raging fever, raging diarrhea—anything raging is quite effective, really—tight deadline at work (which they don’t believe), bus broke down, and bronchitis (which is harder than you think to pull off when you’re perfectly healthy). But today I can’t bring myself to lie. Today we celebrate what would have been my grandfather’s eighty-fifth birthday, and since he was the only person in my family to believe I had any potential at all, I owe it to him to be here.
I stand on the wet sidewalk staring at my parent’s house with the mishmash of dark green-panelled additions jutting out on top of what was once a one-storey brick home. Even though my legs are damp and freezing, I take a moment to drink in the silence before I am bombarded by the chaos and cooking smells that wait for me. A light rain starts, urging me to go in and get it over with already. There are much worse fates than a family dinner. I can’t think of what they are at the moment, but I know they exist.
Hoping not to be noticed when I walk through the door, I keep my voice whisper-quiet as I say, “Hi, everyone!”
My mother’s head whips out of the kitchen down the narrow hall. Mum has highly-attuned ears. She can manage two conversations at the same time, all while listening for a sleeping baby and making sure the potatoes don’t boil over.
“Tessa! There you are! I thought you’d never get here.” She dodges my nieces, who are too busy chasing the cat around with a tiara to notice me.
“Poor Mr. Whiskers. Mum, you’re not letting them dress him up again.” I hand her the wine I brought for ‘everyone’ (and by everyone, I mean me) and give her a kiss on the cheek.
“He’ll let them know if he doesn’t want to play dress up.” She pulls me in for a hug and the familiar scent of Chanel No. 5 wafts into my nostrils.
A hiss and a yowl says Mum was right about Mr. Whiskers. All three of the girls come screaming back down the hall, then make a right and thunder up the stairs.
Mum looks me up and down. “Splashed at the transfer station again?”
“You should really think about getting a car. They have those electric ones now, so you won’t be ruining the earth like the rest of us.”
“Yes, you’ve mentioned that before.”
As much as I’d love to cruise around in my own car, I can’t exactly afford one, which is a bit of stomach-tightening information that I keep to myself. So instead, I use public transit under the pretense that I have turned into a real environmentalist. While I definitely care about the earth, I also fantasize about one day pulling up in a shiny, sporty little car so that I can roar off when I have had enough ‘family time.’
What I’d really like to do is to find some nice, stable, eco-conscious man who will drive me to my parents’ house in a hybrid with heated leather seats. I’m sure if I found him, my ‘worthiness of respect’ rating would triple. But since finding a single, dependable, decent man is as likely as finding a payphone these days, I will forever remain a very single entrepreneur who gets to buy expensive footwear (on sale) without hearing complaints from someone who will later leave up the toilet seat.
Oh, that sounded horribly negative. I know there are good men out there, but they are for other women. Not for me. If there is a lying, cheating sack of crap within a ten-mile radius, I’ll find him and fall for him.
My niece, Poppy, is the first of the children to notice me. Her eyes light up and she screams, “Auntie Tessa is here!”
And so begins the onslaught of kids rushing for the packages of Jelly Babies they know I’ve brought. Poppy runs down the stairs and straight
I crouch down and dig around in my coat pocket. “Let’s see if I’ve got anything for you.”
She grins expectantly.
“Oh, here it is. One package of Jelly Babies, world’s finest candy.” I hand her the package.
“Thank you, Auntie!” She gives me another hug, while the lineup of children forms not so neatly behind her.
“You’re welcome, peanut,” I whisper in her ear. “Don’t forget, you’re my favourite Poppy in the whole world.”
Poppy beams as her little brother, Clarke, cuts in between us.
I go through this routine another six times, then tell the brood of them what I always do. “Save them for after dinner or your mums will be very cross with me.”