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by Isabelle Santiago
Description: Step into a world of glamour and fame where American youths are still raw from the war, music takes an edgier turn, and movie stars are practically royalty. Charles Witmore is used to celebrities. As owner of the grand Winmont Hotel in Los Angeles, he has seen them come and go more times than he can count. But the experience is altogether different when silver screen starlet Bridget Phillips walks into his life and crashes into his heart. He's absolutely starstruck. Her beauty is exactly as majestic as has been rumored, but he wonders about the many claims laid against the woman, who seems to be so shrouded in mystery. Initially claimed by prejudice, he sees nothing more than the ice princess she presents, beautiful and stone cold. But, the more time she spends at his hotel, the more he begins to see there is more to her facade than meets the eye. Soon, she becomes the object of his affection, and in an amusing ploy, his two best friends, Betty and Eleanor, and his cute assistant Tessa, set up the matchmaking scheme of a lifetime. But will Bridget's dark secret keep Charles from his happily ever after?
eBook Publisher: Freya's Bower/Freya's Bower, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2008
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [138 KB]
Reading time: 86-121 min.
"With a sub-plot that is both touching and interesting, Cinematic Royalty is a must read ... refreshing and spot on..."--A Whole Bottle of Champagne from White Russian, Cocktail Reviews
"Cinematic Royalty is a wonderful tale... I fell in love with this book and highly recommend it!"--4 Lips from Tara Renee, Two Lips Reviews
"If it were available in print, it would have a spot on my bookshelf... I loved the humorous aspects of this story..."--4.5 Ribbons, Lady Bird Robi, Romance Junkies Reviews
Star struck. That's exactly how I felt when I first laid eyes on Bridget Phillips. Not exactly a feeling I was familiar with. I, Charles Witmore, Esquire, businessman extraordinaire, never lost my composure, never got flustered. Countless celebrities walked the floors of my establishment, each more beautiful than the last, each glorious in their presence, larger than life. I remained in control, professional. Until she stepped through my hotel doors and changed everything.
I'm quite certain I'll never forget that day. She strolled through the lobby with her eyes hidden behind smoky square frames. Each step of her heels clicked against the patterned marble floors. I stared, awed by the deliciously slow movement, hypnotized by the way her hips swayed from left to right with each purposeful stride.
At that moment, no one else stood in that room. The voices that filled the air only moments before vanished. All I could see was the flawless ivory skin of her neck, the dusty rose flush on high, rounded cheekbones. Her lips, caught in a photo-ready smile, made wicked promises no respectable woman would, tinted a bold crimson like the darkest wine. A maroon silk scarf with vibrant orange flowers covered her head. The silken material tied freely beneath her chin and left a peek of auburn curls against her neck. My fingers curled in anticipation. Every coherent thought centered on touching those curls, testing whether they were as soft and lush as they looked.
Restraint pulled me past the suffocating sea of physical sensation back to reality. I shook my head to clear the foggy thoughts. Logic told me I was not the first man she had affected in this way, nor would I be the last. I wasn't blind to her cunning ways. I'd heard many things about the beguiling actress. Forbidden liaisons, scandalous affairs with the richest, most powerful men in Hollywood. Leading men were her style. Rugged, handsome pretenders that would look good on her arm at events and in the papers. In short, Bridget Phillips was the type of woman that stories could be spread about. That people wanted to spread stories about.
"Miss Phillips?" I cleared my throat, easing away the nervous lump that lodged there. She smelled of English lavender and summer rain, a combination deadly to any man's senses. She turned to look at me. Like a fiery flame traveling a million miles an hour, it struck me with a burning intensity right in the chest. I was smitten.
She removed her sunglasses, pressed them between long, elegant fingers sheathed in buttery cream leather gloves. Her rich chestnut eyes swept over me with careful scrutiny. When she blinked, dark lashes swept over her cheeks. Each move struck me as graceful; the choreographed action of a dancer who never ceased performing. I gawked at her, unable to rip my gaze away. Her beauty was effortless. Confidence oozed from each pore, tinged with just enough aloofness to make her a fascinating mystery.
I struggled to collect my thoughts. I felt awkward, completely out of place, a nervous teenager in front of the most popular girl in school. Get it together, Witmore, I coached. You are the owner of the most luxurious hotels in the United States. You're well liked. Respected. I counted to ten, then backwards to one all in my head. I focused on breathing through my nose. None of it mattered. For the first time in my life, I was floored. She looked into my eyes, and I fell utterly and completely in love with her.
"Ah yes," she said in a breathy whisper. "You must be Mr. Witmore. A pleasure, I'm sure." Her plump lips perfectly formed each syllable. I watched them, mesmerized by their movement. Her voice caressed the air like soft velvet. I could have listened to it for all eternity. Something about it was musical, rhythmic, and enchanting. She was bewitching, plain and simple.
Through the haze of my thoughts, I somehow managed to reach out, pick up her gloved fingers and lay a delicate kiss upon them. I thanked the heavens for the ability to keep my composure, despite the violent thundering of my heart. "I am pleased to have you staying at my finest establishment, Miss Phillips," I said with deceptive calm. "I truly hope you will find your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The reception desk is available twenty-four hours a day. They will be more than happy to handle all of your needs."
I kept my usual business-like tone, knowing the speech by heart. It was what I did. What I excelled at. It was comforting to have something familiar to draw on when everything else in my world felt like it'd been tipped on its axis.
"What about you, Mr. Witmore?" she questioned. Her eyes looked back up at mine for a brief moment before she removed one, then both of her gloves. I glanced down at the bright red of her nail polish in stark contrast to her creamy ivory skin. My mouth went dry, the burn in my chest returned, and the calm, collected man flew out the window. This woman with her pin-up looks, was some sort of poison.
"Me, Miss Phillips?"
"Yes," she sighed, exasperated. "How would I go about contacting you? After all, if I am in any way displeased, I would much rather go to the management than the busboy. You understand now, don't you?" I nodded my head, eager to please, brushing off the arrogance of her words. She was, after all, royalty of the absolute worst kind: a goddess of film, the black and white vixen of Hollywood who took the silver screen by storm.
"Here is my card." I pushed shaky fingers into my breast pocket and pulled out the small paper square. "Feel free to contact me at any hour. My job is to make sure you have everything you desire."
"Of course." Her lips curved into a devilish smile. She reached over and took the card from my hand. Her skin grazed mine for the briefest of moments, but it was long enough to send a hot flush over my skin. After a brief inspection of the card's content, she tucking it safely between herself and the bosom fabric of her dress. I tightened my jaw, forcing my eyes to remain upon her face where they belonged.
She pulled out a cigarette. I pulled out a lighter. She looked up at me as I exposed the paper to the fire. In one swift movement, she removed the cigarette from her mouth, let it hang loose between her fingers. Without taking her eyes away from mine, she exhaled. I looked at her lips through a faint fog of smoke, lips puckered in a seductive pout that made my hands sweat. I forced myself to remember she was an esteemed guest.
"I'm going to retire," she said with a wispy sigh. "It's been an awful long trip, and I am beyond exhausted. Thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Witmore." She placed the dark sunglasses back over her eyes and took another puff of her cigarette. With that, she turned to walk away toward the suite laid out for her, followed by three of my men carrying her suitcases.
I looked on until she disappeared from sight. My breath pushed against aching lungs. I would never be the same again.