Hi Melanie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Venetian One-Night Baby!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Two arch enemies. Years of resisting numerous familial matchmaking attempts. A stolen night of passion= a baby!
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Sabrina was hoping she wouldn’t run into Max Firbank again after The Kiss. He wasn’t an easy man to avoid since he was her parents’ favourite godson and was invited to just about every Midhurst family gathering. Birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, parties and anniversaries he would spend on the fringes of the room, a twenty-first reincarnation of Jane Austen’s taciturn Mr Darcy. He’d look down his aristocratic nose at everyone else having fun.
Sabrina made sure she had extra fun just to annoy him.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- It was fun writing a book with characters who both came from loving backgrounds. No broken families. No abusive or neglected childhoods.
- It was fun writing a linked book -Claimed by the Billionaire’s Convenience is the story of Holly, Sabrina’s best friend and business partner I blogged about last month. Sabrina was already fully formed in my head as I wrote Holly’s story, so it made writing Sabrina’s romance with Max so much easier. And heaps of fun!
- It was fun taking my characters to Venice for their night of stolen passion. I had holidayed there a few years ago and loved it. It’s such a romantic destination.
- I love anything to do with weddings, so it was fun having a character who is a wedding designer. I had the perfect excuse to window shop at bridal boutiques! The stunning creativity always takes my breath away when I see an exquisite gown.
- It was fun typing The End, because every book is hard to write, even the fun ones. But I really missed these characters once the book was in production. They stayed with me for ages.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Sabrina and Max have always actively avoided each other due to their parents’ repeated attempts to set them up. But they share a passionate kiss, (off the page in the back story) which awakens something in them they both strenuously fight to resist. But when they next run into each other, that energy is sizzling to boiling point and can’t so easily be ignored.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
Passionate. Romantic. Respectful. Tender. Loving.
The First Kiss…
‘Why shouldn’t we?’ Sabrina leaned closer, drawn to him as if pulled by an invisible force.
He swallowed and slid his hand to the sensitive skin of her nape, his fingers tangling into her hair, sending her scalp into a tingling torrent of pleasure. ‘Because it can’t go anywhere.’
‘Who said I wanted it to go anywhere?’ Sabrina asked. ‘I’m just asking you to kiss me, not marry me. You kiss other women, don’t you?’
His breath came out and sent a tickling waft of air across the surface of her lips. ‘The thing is… I’m not sure I can just kiss you.’
She stared at him in pleasant surprise. So pleasant her ego got out of the foetal position and did a victory dance. ‘What are you saying?’ She couldn’t seem to speak louder than a whispery husk.
His eyes had a dark pulsing intensity that made her inner core contract. ‘I want you. But I—’
‘Can we skip the but?’ Sabrina said. ‘Let’s go back to the I want you bit. Thing is, I want you too. So, what are we going to do about it?’
His gaze drifted to her mouth and then back to her eyes, his eyes hardening as if he had called on some inner strength to keep his self-control in check. ‘We’re going to ignore it, that’s what.’ His tone had the same determined edge as his gaze.
Sabrina moistened her lips, watching as his gaze followed the movement of her tongue. ‘What if I don’t want to ignore it? What if I want you to kiss me? What if I want you to make love to me just this once? No one needs to know about it. It’s just between us. It will get it out of our system once and for all and then we can go back to normal.’
She could hardly believe she had been so upfront. She had never been so brazen, so bold about her needs. But she could no longer ignore the pulsing ache of her body. The need that clawed and clenched. The need that only he triggered. Was that why she hadn’t made love with anyone for all these years? No one made her feel this level of desire. No one even came close to stirring her flesh into a heated rush of longing.
‘Sabrina…please…’ His voice had a scraped-raw quality as if his throat had been scoured with a bristled brush.
‘Please what? Don’t tell it like it is?’ Sabrina placed her hand on his chest where his heart was thud, thud, thudding so similar to her own. ‘You want me. You said so. I felt it when you kissed me three weeks ago. And I know you want me now.’
Max took her by the hands, his fingers almost overlapping around her wrists. At first, she thought he was going to put her from him, but then his fingers tightened and he drew her closer. ‘This is madness…’ His smoky grey-blue gaze became hooded as it focussed on her mouth as if drawn to it by a magnetic force too powerful for his willpower.
‘What is mad about two consenting adults having a one-night stand?’ There she went again—such brazen words spilling out of her mouth, as if she’d swallowed the bad girl’s guide to hook-up sex. Who was this person she had suddenly become since entering his hotel room? It wasn’t anyone Sabrina recognised. But she wasn’t going to stop now. She couldn’t. If she didn’t have sex with Max, someone she knew and trusted to take care of her, who else would she get to do the deed? No one, that’s who.
Ten years had already passed and her confidence around men had gone backwards, not forwards. It was do or die—of sexual frustration. She wanted Max to cure her of her of her hang-ups…not that she was going to tell him about her lack of a love life. No flipping way. He’d get all knight-in-shining-armour about it and refuse to make love to her.
Max brushed the pad of his thumb over her bottom lip, pressing and then releasing until her senses were singing like the Philharmonic choir. ‘A one-night stand? Is that really what you want?’
Sabrina fisted her hands into the thickness of his dark brown hair, the colour so similar to her own. She fixed her gaze on his troubled one. ‘Make love to me, Max. Please?’ Gah. Was she begging now? Was that how desperate she had become?
Yep. That desperate.
Max tipped up her chin, his eyes locking on hers. ‘One night? No repeats? No happy ever after, right?’
Sabrina licked her lips—a mixture of nerves and feverish excitement. ‘I want no one and I mean no one to find out about this. It will be our little secret. Agreed?’
One of his dark brows lifted above his sceptical gaze. But then his gaze flicked back to her mouth and he gave a shuddery sigh, as if the final restraint on his self-control had popped its bolts. ‘Madness,’ he said, so low she almost couldn’t hear it. ‘This is madness.’ And then his mouth came down and set fire to hers.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
My favourite scene (apart from the happy ending!) is where Sabrina tells Max she is pregnant. It is at his mother’s birthday party and Sabrina is in the library with Max, struggling to get the words out. Max thinks she is talking about ‘someone else’ in her life, which stirs up intense jealousy in him.
Max knocked on the library door. ‘Sabrina? Let me in.’
He could hear the sound of her breathing on the other side of the door—hectic and panicked as if she really was trying to avoid someone menacing. But after a moment the key turned in the lock and the door creaked open.
‘Are you alone?’ Sabrina’s voice sounded as creaky as the door, her eyes wide and bluer than he had ever seen them. And, he realised with a jolt, reddened as if she’d been recently crying. A lot.
‘Yes, but what’s going on?’ He stepped into the room before she could stop him and closed the door behind him.
Sabrina took a few steps back and hugged her arms around her middle, her eyes skittering away from his. ‘I have something to tell you…’
Here we go. Max had been here so many times before. The I want more than a one-night stand speech. But this time he was okay with it. More than okay. He could think of nothing he wanted more than to have a longer fling with her. Longer than one night, that was. A week or two, a month or three. Long enough to scratch the itch but not long enough for her to get silly ideas about it being for ever. ‘It’s okay, Sabrina. You don’t have to look so scared. I’ve been thinking along the same lines.’
Her smooth brow crinkled into a frown. ‘The same…lines?’
Max gave a soft laugh, his blood already pumping at the thought of taking her in his arms. Maybe even here in the quiet of the library while the guests were partying in the ballroom. What could be sexier than a clandestine affair? ‘We’d have to keep it a secret, of course. But a month or two would be fun.’ He took a step towards her but she backed away as if he was carrying the Black Plague.
‘No.’ She held up her hands like stop signs, her expression couldn’t have looked more horrified than if he’d drawn a gun.
No? Max hadn’t heard that word from a woman for a long time. Weird, but hearing it from Sabrina was unusually disappointing. ‘Okay. That’s fine. We’ll stick to the original agreement.’
She gave an audible swallow and her arms went back around her middle. ‘Max…’ She slowly lifted her gaze back to his, hers still wide as Christmas baubles. ‘I don’t know how to tell you this…’
His gut suddenly seized and he tried to control his breathing. So she’d found someone else. No wonder his offer of a temporary fling had been turned down. She was sleeping with someone else. Someone else was kissing that beautiful mouth, someone else was holding her gorgeous body in their arms.
‘It’s okay, Sabrina.’ How had he got his voice to sound so level? So damn normal when his insides were churning with jealousy? Yes, jealousy—that thing he never felt. Ever. Not for anyone. The big green-eyed monster was having a pity party in his gut and there was nothing he could do about it.
One of Sabrina’s hands crept to press against her stomach. She licked her lips and opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t seem to get her voice to work.
Max called on every bit of willpower he possessed to stop himself from reaching for her and showing her why a temporary fling with him was much a better idea than her getting involved permanently with someone else. A hard sell to a fairytale girl, but still. His hands stayed resolutely by his sides, but his fingers were clenching and unclenching like his jaw. ‘Who is it?’ There. He’d asked the question his pride had forbidden him to ask.
Sabrina’s brow creased into another puzzled frown. ‘I… You think there’s someone…else?’
Max shrugged as if it meant nothing to him what she did and whom she did it with. But on the inside he was slamming his fist into the wall in frustration. Bam. Bam. Bam. The imaginary punches were in time with the thud, thud, thud of his heart. ‘That’s what this is about, isn’t it?’
‘Have you found someone else?’ Her voice was faint and hesitant as if it was struggling to get past a stricture in her throat.
She closed her eyes in a tight squint as if his answer had pained her. She opened her eyes again and took a deep breath. ‘In a way, this is about someone else…’ She laced her fingers together in front of her stomach, then released them and did it again like a nervous tic. ‘Someone neither of us has met…yet…’
Max wanted to wring his own hands. He wanted to turn back time and go back to Venice and do things differently. He had to get control of himself. He couldn’t allow his jealousy over a man who may or may not exist to mess with his head. He took a calming breath, released it slowly. They would both eventually find someone else. He would have to get used to seeing her with a husband one day. A man who would give her the family she wanted. The commitment and the love she wanted. And Max would move from woman to woman just as he had been doing for the last six years. ‘So, you’re saying you’re not actually seeing someone else right at this moment?’
‘No.’ Her face screwed up in distaste. ‘How could you think I would want to after what we shared?’
‘It was just sex, Sabrina.’ He kept his tone neutral even though his male ego was doing fist pumps. Damn good sex. Amazing sex. Awesome sex he wanted to repeat. Then a victory chant sounded in his head. There isn’t anyone else. There isn’t anyone else. The big green monster slunk away and relief flooded Max’s system.
‘Yeah, well, if only it had been just sex…’ Something about her tone and her posture made the hairs of the back of his neck stand up. Her hand kept creeping over the flat plane of her belly, her throat rising and falling over a swallow that sounded more like a gulp.
Max was finding it hard to make sense of what she was saying. And why was she looking so flustered? ‘I’m not sure where this conversation is heading, but how about you say what you want to say, okay? I promise I won’t interrupt. Just spit it out, for God’s sake.’
Her eyes came back to his and she straightened her spine as if girding herself for a firing squad. ‘Max… I’m pregnant.’
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
Because of the intense family pressure Max and Sabrina have always felt to be a couple, I would include the scene where Gillian Firbank, Max’s mother comes across them in the library just after Sabrina has told Max her news.
The door suddenly opened behind them and Max glanced over his shoulder to see his mother standing there. ‘Oh, there you two are.’ Her warm brown eyes sparkled with fairy godmother delight.
Sabrina sprang away from Max but she bumped into the mahogany desk behind her and yelped. ‘Ouch!’
Max reached for Sabrina, steadying her by bringing her close to his side. ‘Are you okay?’
She rubbed her left hip, her cheeks a vivid shade of pink. ‘Yes…’
‘Did I startle you?’ Max’s mother asked. ‘Sorry, darling, but I was wondering where you’d gone. You seemed a little upset earlier.’
‘I’m not upset,’ Sabrina said, biting her lip.
His mother raised her eyebrows and then glanced at Max. ‘I hope you two aren’t fighting again? No wonder the poor girl gets upset with you glaring at her all the time. I don’t want my party spoilt by your boorish behaviour. Why can’t you just kiss and make up for a change?’
Max could have laughed at the irony of the situation if his sense of humour hadn’t already been on life support. He’d done way more than kiss Sabrina and now there were consequences he would be dealing with for the rest of his life. But there was no way he could tell his mother what had gone on between them. No way he could say anything until she was through the first trimester of her pregnancy. It would get everybody’s hopes up and the pressure would be unbearable—even more unbearable than it already was.
‘It’s fine, Aunty Gillian. Max is being perfectly civil to me,’ Sabrina said, carefully avoiding his gaze.
Max’s mother shifted her lips from side to side. ‘Mmm, I’m not sure it’s safe to leave you two alone for more than five minutes. Who knows what might happen?’
Who knew, indeed?
Readers should read this book …
If they enjoy enemies to lovers stories with a twist of family background harmony!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I am about to resume my 81st book after a hiatus due to breaking my elbow in a fall. I’m 20,00 words in so hopefully it won’t take me too long to get going again. Typing has been difficult and I have to take things slowly to get full movement back. I know I could have used dictation software, but I find the process of physically typing helps unlock my creativity. Plus, the time off has meant I’ve caught up on lots of reading and movie watching, which can only be a good thing for a writer, right?
Out in May, I have Penniless Virgin to Sicilian’s Bride. My hero Gabriel Salvetti is the only white sheep from a notorious criminal family. He needs Anglo-Italian aristocrat Francesca Mancini’s respectability by engaging in a marriage of convenience with her to distance himself from his father’s criminal activities.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A signed copy of ‘The Venetian One-Night Baby’ plus a bonus copy of ‘Claimed for the Billionaire’s Convenience’.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Max and Sabrina have felt the pressure of matchmaking friends and family all of their lives. Is there a couple you have successfully match made? Or were you on the receiving end of such an attempt?
Excerpt from The Venetian One-Night Baby (One Night With Consequences):
When Max entered the suite in the early hours of the morning, Sabrina was sound asleep, curled up like a kitten, her brown hair spilling over the pillow. One of her hands was tucked under the cheek; the other was lying on the top of the covers. She was wearing a cream satin nightie for he could see the delicate lace trim across her décolletage peeking out from where the sheet was lying across her chest.
The desire to slip into that bed and pull her into his arms was so strong he had to clench his hands into fists. He clearly had to do something about his sex life if he was ogling the one woman he wanted to avoid. When was the last time he’d been with someone? A month? Two…or was it three? He’d been busy working on multiple projects, which hadn’t left much time for a social life. Not that he had a much of a social life. He preferred his own company so he could get on with his work.
Work. That’s what he needed to concentrate on. He moved past the bed to go to the desk where he had set up his laptop the day before. He opened one of the accounts he was working on and started tinkering.
There was a rustle from the bed behind him and Sabrina’s drowsy voice said, ‘Do you have to do that now?’
Max turned around to look at her in the muted light coming off his laptop screen. Her hair was a cloud of tangles and one of her cheeks had a linen crease and one spaghetti-thin strap of her nightie had slipped off her shoulder, revealing the upper curve of her left breast. She looked sleepy, sexy and sensual and lust hit him like a sucker punch. ‘Sorry. Did I wake you?’
She pushed back some of her hair with her hand. ‘Don’t you ever sleep?’
I would if there wasn’t a gorgeously sexy woman lying in the bed next to mine.
Max kept his features neutral but his body was thrumming, hardening, aching. ‘How’s your head? Have the construction workers started yet?’
Her mouth flickered with a sheepish smile. ‘Not yet. The water helped.’
He pushed a hand through his hair and suppressed a yawn. ‘Can I get you anything?’
‘You don’t have to wait on me, Max.’ She peeled back the bed covers and swung her slim legs over the edge of the bed. She padded over to the bar fridge and opened it, the light spilling from inside a golden shaft against her long shapely legs.
‘Hair of the dog?’ Max injected a cautionary note in his tone.
She closed the fridge and held up a chocolate bar. ‘Nope. Chocolate is the best hangover cure.’
He shrugged and turned back to his laptop. ‘Whatever works, I guess.’
The sound of her unwrapping the chocolate bar was loud in the silence. Then he heard her approaching from behind, the soft pfft, pfft, pfft of her footsteps on the carpet reminding him of a stealthy cat. He smelt the fragrance of her perfume dance around his nostrils, the sweet peas and lilacs with an understory of honeysuckle—or was it jasmine?
‘Is that one of your designs?’ She was standing so close behind him every hair on the back of his neck lifted. Tensed. Tickled. Tightened.
She leaned over his shoulder, some of her hair brushing his face, and he had to call on every bit of self-control he possessed not to touch her. Her breath smelt of chocolate and temptation. In the soft light her skin had a luminous glow, the creamy perfection of her skin making him ache to run his finger down the slope of her cheek. He let out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding and clicked the computer mouse. ‘Here. I’ll give you a virtual tour.’ He showed her the presentation he’d been working on for a client, trying to ignore the closeness of her body.
‘Wow…’ She smiled and glanced at him, her head still bent close to his. ‘It’s amazing.’
Max couldn’t tear his eyes away from the curve of her mouth. Its plump ripeness, the top lip just as full as the lower one and the neat definition of the philtrum ridge below her nose. He met her gaze and something in the atmosphere changed. The silence so intense he was sure he could hear his blood pounding. He could certainly feel it—it was swelling his groin to a painful tightness. He put his hand down on hers where it was resting on the desk, holding it beneath the gentle but firm pressure of his. He felt her flinch as if his touch electrified her and her eyes widened into shimmering pools of cornflower blue.
The tip of her tongue swept over her lips, her breath coming out in a jagged stream. ‘Max…’ Her voice was whisper soft, tentative and uncertain.
He lifted her hand from the desk and toyed with her fingers, watching every micro-expression on her face. Her skin was velvet soft and he was getting off thinking about her hands stroking his body. Stroking him. Was she thinking about it? About the heat they generated? About the lust that swirled and simmered and sizzled between them? She kept glancing at his mouth, her throat rising and falling over a series of delicate swallows. Her breathing was uneven. He was still seated and she was standing, but because of the height ratio, he was just about at eye level with her breasts.
But the less he thought about her breasts the better.
Max released her hand and rose from the desk chair in an abrupt movement. ‘Go back to bed, Sabrina.’ He knew he sounded as stern as a schoolmaster but he had to get the damn genie back in the lamp. The genie of lust. The wicked genie that had been torturing him since he’d foolishly kissed Sabrina three weeks ago.
‘I was sound asleep in bed before you started tapping away at your computer.’ Sabrina’s tone was tinged with resentment.
Max let out a long slow breath. ‘I don’t want to argue with you. Now go to—’
‘Why don’t you want to argue with me?’ Her eyes flashed blue sparks. ‘Because you might be tempted to kiss me again?’
He kept his expression under lockdown. ‘We’re not doing this, Sabrina.’
‘Not doing what?’ Her mouth was curved in a mocking manner. ‘You were going to kiss me again, weren’t you? Go on. Admit it.’
Max gave his own version of a smile and shook his head as if he was dealing with a misguided child. ‘No. I was not going to kiss you.’
She straightened her shoulders and folded her arms. ‘Liar.’
Max held her gaze, his body throbbing with need. No one could get him as worked up as her. No one. Their verbal banter was a type of foreplay. When had it started to become like that? For years, their arguments had just been arguments—the clash of two strong-willed personalities. But over the last few months something had changed. Was that why he’d gone to the dinner party of a mutual friend because he’d known she’d be there? Was that why he’d offered to drive her home because her car was being serviced? There had been other people at the dinner who could have taken her but, no, he’d insisted.
He couldn’t even recall what they’d been arguing about on the way home or who had started it. But he remembered all too well how it had ended and he had to do everything in his power to make sure it never happened again. ‘Why would I kiss you again? You don’t want another dose of stubble rash, do you?’
Her combative expression floundered for a moment and her teeth snagged her lower lip. ‘Okay…so I might have been lying about that…’
Max kept his gaze trained on hers. ‘You’re not asking me to kiss you, are you?’
The sparkling light of defiance was back in her eyes. ‘Of course not.’ She gave a spluttering laugh as if the idea was ludicrous. ‘I would rather kiss a cane toad.’
‘Good.’ He slammed his lips shut on the word. ‘Better keep it that way.’
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It was a sizzling encounter…
Then a baby binds them forever!
A hotel booking mix-up in Venice means wedding-dress designer Sabrina Midhurst must share a room with her nemesis: wealthy, brooding businessman Max Firbank. It’s infuriating—until an unexpected night of passion awakens a need Sabrina didn’t even know was possible! They’ve always battled their supercharged attraction, so when Sabrina confesses she’s pregnant, she’s stunned by Max’s demand: that she wear his ring!
Spend one unforgettable night in Venice with this passionate romance!
Book Links: Amazon |
Meet the Author:
Melanie Milburne read her first Harlequin at age seventeen in between studying for her final exams. After completing a Masters Degree in Education she decided to write a novel and thus her career as a romance author was born. Melanie is an ambassador for the Australian Childhood Foundation and is a keen dog lover and trainer and enjoys long walks in the Tasmanian bush. In 2015 Melanie won the HOLT Medallion, a prestigous award honouring outstanding literary talent.
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