Married in a Rush

Mills & Boon
October 6, 2006 (Paperback)

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MARRIED IN A RUSH is the follow-up to DELICIOUS. It's the story of Elisabeth's best friend, party-girl Joanna Graham.

From party girl...to pregnant and married mu,-to-be!

One look from handsome stranger Bruno Deluca and Jo Graham's resolve melts. This is one casual encounter party-girl Jo isn't going to turn down!

It's not as if carefree summer loving with a tall, gorgeous man is meant to lead to lifelong commitment--but, after a day of hot and heavy sex with Bruno, Jo is left with an unfamiliar sense of regret when he finally leaves. And that's not the only surprise. Her biological clock has stopped ticking of its own free will...

She's pregnant, and now sexy Bruno wants to marry her--whether she likes it or not!

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More About Married in a Rush

Although the closet where Jo and Bruno have sex doesn't exist in London's National Gallery (as far as I'm aware, anyway--I only go so far with my research), the Van Hoogstraten peep show from the extract above is real, and quite an extraordinary object.
van hoogstraten peepshow

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"The perfect short contemporary romance." -Romance Reader at Heart

"Julie Cohen is unrivalled when it comes to blending steamy romance, heartfelt emotion, poignant drama and effervescent sassiness." -Cataromance, 4 1/2 stars



Excerpt

The room she’d wandered into was quieter than the rest of the gallery, and unlike the other rooms in that it featured a large box on a wooden pedestal, along with the paintings. The outside was dark painted and lacquered wood. She walked around the box and saw that the front of it was open and glassed over. The inside of the box was painted with the interior of a room, but the perspectives were skewed, irregular, and yet eerily realistic, like a small slice of Alice’s Wonderland.

This was cool. It reminded her of a stage set. She could use something like this for a senior production at school. She began to walk around it again and noticed that there was a peephole in the side of the box. Jo stooped and looked through it.

As if by magic, the small, limited perspective made the whole picture make sense. What had been skewed became straight. What had seemed flat suddenly appeared three-dimensional. Jo was looking into a real house, with a tiled floor and red velvet chairs and paintings on the wall and a small black-and-white dog.

And on the opposite wall was another hole. And in the other hole, a pale blue eye.

Jo blinked and straightened up.

At the same time, the man across from her straightened up. And once again she was staring into the eyes of the beautiful stranger. All of the desire she’d felt pressed up against him came rushing back. She curled her fingers into her palms.

“Sorry I walked away,” he said. The intimacy in his words, the lack of a polite pretence that they hadn’t been aware of each other, made her heart thump and her skin tingle.

The box still separated them, the picture of the room that suddenly fell into place when you looked at it the right way. She felt something similar happening with her view of what had happened this afternoon. Of course they’d been trying to find each other. There was something that fit when they looked each other in the eye.

“What do you think of the peepshow?” the man asked, as if he could read her mind. In fact, she wouldn’t be surprised if he really could.

“I like it,” she said. “I like it when things suddenly make sense.”

He smiled, not the fake smile he’d given her before he’d walked away, but a real smile, one that relaxed into smile lines on his cheeks and warmed his extraordinary eyes. He stepped around the box and held out his hand. “I’m Bruno.”

“Jo.” It was an effort not to leap into his arms again, to only hold out her hand and touch his. His long fingers curled around hers and she nearly melted at the touch.
“Jo,” he said, and her name sounded wonderful in his voice. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Probably.” She moistened her lips with her tongue, and saw his gaze dip to watch her mouth. “Definitely.”

He changed his grip on her hand, from a handshake to twining his fingers with hers. “I really didn’t think this was the way today was going to go,” he said to her as they started walking together. She didn’t know where they were headed and she didn’t care. She was dimly aware that there were other people in the room with them but she didn’t care about them, either.

“No, me neither. I wasn’t going to look at another man until September.”

He laughed. The sound was beautifully incongruous in the hushed gallery. She registered a few heads turning to glance at them.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

He looked at her out of the corner of his eyes. His eyelashes were long and so dark that they made the colour of his irises even more intense. “Are you up for taking a little risk?”

“I’ll jump off a building as long as you keep on holding my hand.”

He laughed again. “I think you’re exactly what I need.”

They’d reached an empty corridor. Jo took advantage of the fact that they were alone, for now, to stop and look him up and down again. She knew it was a blatant come-on; she meant it to be. Forget the swearing off men. This felt too good. And if she wanted a distraction from having to think about her failure at work, about how she’d hurt Spiros, about the seven empty weeks in front of her, this was a perfect one.

“I think you’re exactly what I want,” she said.

She reached out and grasped the soft material of his t-shirt in both her hands, and pulled him toward her. His mouth met hers in a kiss so sudden, so instantly passionate it stole her breath even though she’d expected it.

His lips were warm and masculine and felt even better than she’d thought from looking at their generous sculpted shape. His mouth opened, moved over hers possessively, parting from her for a split second, just to kiss her harder, like lots of kisses rolled into one. She knotted her hands in his t-shirt and strained up against him. Her tongue swiped against his bottom lip and she heard and felt him groan into her mouth. Bruno walked her backwards, pressed her against the wall with his body against her from head to foot, and deepened the kiss still more. She felt his tongue inside her mouth, tasted the deliciousness of him.

She wanted him now. Jo tore her mouth from his and panted, “Bruno.”

“Yes.” His lips grazed her temple, her cheek, leaving warmth and moisture behind them.

“We need to go somewhere else before they kick us out of the National Gallery for trying to have sex in a corridor.”

“Here,” he muttered, and he reached around her. She couldn’t figure out why until she felt the wall behind her opening and realised she’d been leaning against a door. A glance over her shoulder showed her it was a cleaning closet of some kind.

Jo smiled and stepped backwards through the door, pulling Bruno with her.

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