A young woman has to mend her broken reputation with her prominent jeweler family, and the only way to do it is to marry a man she hates - but as clues come to light that she did not deserve her bad reputation, that marriage of hate could turn to love. This book is part of a series, charting the romances of an Italian family, but while I have read the other books before, this book has stayed with me for some reason. As far as cheesy romance novels go, it is a pretty fun one.
The story is set in Seattle. Gabe is an illegitimate son of the powerful jewelry-making Dante dynasty based in San Francisco, and he has a chip on his shoulder. Gabe and his sister Lucia grew up with their mother Cara, their father Dominic dying before he could bring them to live with the Dante family. Gabe hates the Dantes for abandoning their family, and was forced to sell the gifts Dominic gave to Cara in order to pay for Cara's cancer treatment - among them a valuable diamond necklace. He also denies a certain magical property that all the Dantes inherit - the Inferno, a power that unleashes a spark of lust and instant attraction within any Dante who comes in contact with the person who is destined to be their true love. Instead of marrying according to whoever ignites his Inferno - nobody has yet - Gabe marries his distant cousin Jessa out of an honor-bound sense of duty, after the distraught Jessa finds her cousin Kat in bed with her betrothed Benson, ruining their engagement and also ruining Benson's aspiring political career. While Gabe never truly loves Jessa, he is disgusted with Kat, and mourns Jessa a little when she later dies in a car accident.
Kat has none of the scheming nature that she is accused of. She was innocent and drunk and manipulated into a situation with sweet words and liquor that Jessa specifically set up to discredit Benson as well as Kat, whom Jessa was always jealous of, and end an engagement that Jessa never wanted.
Kat was estranged from her family for 5 years because of her perceived role, something that caused her a lot of pain and grief and anger, but when she learns that her grandmother is dying, Kat wants to get back into her family's good books and be accepted again. She is also an aspiring jewelry designer and wants to work at the family firm. The only way to do that is to marry Gabe - one of the parties affected by the infidelity that Kat did not willingly or knowingly participate in. If she can get Gabe to publicly forgive her and even get engaged to her, the Dantes will take both of them back in.
Kat's grandmother bought the diamond necklace that Gabe was forced to sell to pay for his mother's treatment, and Kat is due to inherit it when her grandmother dies. She meets Gabe unannounced in his office one day to pitch her idea: help me by pretending to be engaged to me, and speaking well of me, and I will give you back your bother's necklace. She tries to ignore the fact that Gabe is tall, good-looking, and a little intimidating, while Gabe has to suddenly ignore the Inferno being awakened within him. He is confused and angry. He does not want to accept that Kat, who he has trained himself to hate for what he thinks she did to Jessa, might be the cause of the Inferno. His immediate reaction is to refuse and tell her not to show herself in his office again, but Kat persuades him by reminding him of how much his mother would love to have it back, and that he could benefit by merging back with the Dante family even if he resents them.
Gabe, unable to fight the feelings, agrees, but on the condition that Kate sleeps with him. Kat refuses. She is intensely attracted to Gabe but does not want him to find out that she is a virgin. They begin to play the game of pretending to be engaged for the next four or five weeks, attending parties and family gatherings together, and their attraction to each other grows. Gabe constantly wants to make love to her, but he is also distracted by the first meetings with his estranged family. His father Dominic has other children: Sev, Luc, Marco, Rafe, and many others, all of whom have felt the Inferno and fallen in love. They are disarmingly welcoming to Gabe, a reaction that Gabe never expected. Gabe is stunned when the patriarch of the clan, affectionately referred to as Primo, tells Gabe that it is real, and that it won't end because it is meant to show you who your true love is. Meanwhile, Gabe's sister Lucia has taken a liking to Kat, and hopes that her brother can find it in him to look beyond the past. Kat and Gabe are falling for each other, having increasingly steamy make out sessions and clearly desiring each other, but not consummating their feelings because of Kat.
However, on the day they get married, Kat gives the necklace to be evaluated by Gabe's sister-in-law Francesca, and it's discovered that six diamonds in the necklace have been replaced with fakes. Gabe figures out that Jessa stole the diamonds and meant to sell them, as nobody else had access to Jessa and Kat's grandmother's vault, and that Jessa used Kat to get out of her marriage with Benson so that Jessa could keep the wealth for herself. But Jessa died before she could sell them, and Gabe and Kat find the diamonds hidden among Jessa's belongings. At last Gabe believes Kat when she says that she never tried to have an affair with Benson, and begs her forgiveness, which she gives readily because now she loves him. Primo, the patriarch of the clan, beams as the couple finally accept the Inferno raging between them.
Best part of story, including ending:
The extremely steamy, flirty kisses and sexual tension between Gabe and Kat, especially in the elevator. It makes a romance novel more fun.
Best scene in story:
when Kat first meets Gabe and manages to coolly confront him, pointing out that he refused her every attempt to make an appointment, and how he eventually
Opinion about the main character:
I didn't like Kat's total inability to read Gabe, it made her look a little stupid.