It’s Spring in the northern hemisphere which means wedding season. So for the next few weeks we'll be checking out my books with the marriage-of-convenience and arranged marriage tropes.
Marriage-of-convenience tropes are stories where the lead characters make a deal to wed each other so one or both parties can achieve a subsequent goal e.g. claim an inheritance, or like in Keeping Secrets where Felix needed a wife to consolidate his position as CEO and made a deal with Ebony.
However in Duke: Prince of Hearts, the marriage-of-convenience between Duke and Carla is centred on staying alive and stopping the war between the Odili and Owo mafia families.
In this scene Duke and Carla are discussing their ideal weddings. Enjoy.
“How do you feel about getting married tomorrow?” he said in a quiet voice.
“Tomorrow?” She sat upright.
He leaned on his elbow, his dark eyes searching her face. “You still want to get married, don’t you?”
“Yes, Bae. I’d marry you tomorrow if it was possible. But nothing has been arranged.” Frowning, she crossed her arms over her chest. She wanted a wedding with all the trimmings.
“What do you need to arrange for a wedding?” He matched her posture, sitting up and facing her.
“I don’t have a dress, a venue, catering, invitations, my friends.” She counted the items off on her fingers.
“All those things are important to you?”
“Well, yes. Aren’t they important to you?”
“No. The important things to me at our wedding are—” He lifted her hand and counted off the fingers “—you, me and the officiator. Everything else is extra.” He pressed soft lips to her knuckles, sending tingles down her spine.
Her resistance melted a little. “Even if we leave out the extras, where are we going to get a priest at such short notice.”
He leaned sideways and grabbed his phone from the cabinet. “I can call one and find out.”
She tilted her head, bemused. “You have a priest? I didn’t know you go to church.”
“She is a priestess of Ani, the Earth Goddess.”
“And you can call her on your phone?”
“Can you call your parish priest on the phone?”
“I guess so although I’ve never tried to call him.”
“She’s a human being, you know. She eats, sleeps and has a life like any other person. The only difference is that she is the local custodian of any ritual ceremonies to Ani.”
“And you think she’ll be free tomorrow?”
“I can call her and find out.”
A little agitated, she got off the bed and walked to the window. She had turned the low, deep sill into a loveseat by adding pillows. During the day, the view of the valley was stunning. Right now, yellow lights dotted and blinked in the distance.
She sat on the sill, pulled her leg up, wrapped her arms around her legs and tucked her chin on her knees.
Duke shifted to the end of the bed, feet on the rug, arms braced on his thighs. “You don’t want me to call her.”
She sighed, unsure about how to explain her feelings. “It’s just … I’ve dreamt about a big wedding for a long time. At first, it was pure fantasy about this prince who would whisk me away from my life, and we would have a fairy tale wedding. Then every time I saw a wedding photo on social media, I would think about how my own wedding would be more extravagant. How everything would be on point.”
She puffed out another deep breath. “Your idea of an intimate ceremony with just you and me taking our vows is beautiful and romantic.”
He rubbed his palms over his face. “You think so?”
“Yes. It is. It’s just not my dream wedding. I know it’s selfish, but I want a big fat Nigerian wedding. You can chalk it down to me being Yoruba and how we love to party.”
Duke’s life is about honour, loyalty and respect for the business.
One look at Carla across a crowded nightclub, and he breaks his own rules.
One night with the seductive woman who calls to him like no other, and he wants to keep her.
His troubled angel is a mafia princess who lives dangerously on the edge.
She plays a desperate prank and sparks a cartel war.
Duke is in a high-stakes battle to keep everything he loves.
And he intends to win, come Hell or high water.
Content Warning: contains depictions of drug use and depictions of torture.