From Texas nanny…to palace princess!
It should never have happened -- the night of forbidden magic that turned Lani Vasquez and Prince Maximilian Bravo-Calabretti into lovers. After all, Lani knew all too well that an affair between a lowly nanny and the heir to the throne could only end in heartbreak -- her own. Which was why she had to end it before she lost her herself completely…
His New Year's Eve with Lani had rocked Max's world -- and now the Texas beauty wanted to be just friends? The single father had sworn he'd never marry again, but Lani had charmed his children and awakened his guarded heart. Will the prince catch his Cinderella before the clock strikes midnight?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Bravo Royales series so far and have been anxiously awaiting Max's story. I was not disappointed. The emotional journey had me going through quite a few tissues. Lani is the nanny for Max's niece and nephew by day and a budding novelist in the evenings. Over the previous year she and Max have become friends as they bonded over their love of Montedoran history. On New Year's Eve that friendship took an unexpected turn when they shared a passionate night together. But Lani knows nothing can come of it and tries to pull back before either of them get hurt.
Max's night with Lani has rocked his world. He has kept himself emotionally distant for so long that being with her makes him happy, but also makes him very nervous. He has sworn that he will never marry again. While the world saw his marriage as a fairy tale, it had problems that Max doesn't want to risk again. When Lani pulls back after their night together, Max is determined that they will continue their relationship, but he wants to make sure it is clear what his terms are. I liked the patience that he showed in reining back on the physical relationship and going back to their friendship until she was more comfortable. He was sensitive enough to know that there was something bothering her at the beginning. I loved his support of her and the way that he didn't judge her about the things in her past. I really liked seeing him make her part of his everyday life, including being with his children and the rest of his family. He could see how perfect she was for him and his family, but he couldn't bring himself to think in terms of commitment. Even when he opens up to Lani about his marriage his fears won't let him take that final step. It made me hurt for him to see Max let Lani go when he can't give her what she wants and deserves. I loved seeing how it was his son who showed him what a difference Lani has made in his life and starts Max's final journey to letting go of the past and embracing the future.
Lani has had her own issues from the past to deal with. After making some poor choices at the age of eighteen that had a great impact on her self worth and her relationship with her family, she is finally beginning to be happy with her life. She loves caring for her friend Sydney's children, adores living in Montedoro, and is pursuing her dream of being a writer. She has enjoyed her friendship with Max and regrets the events of New Year's Eve. She wants to go back to the comfortable friendship they had but Max is resisting the idea. Her first objection that she works for his family is overcome when she is able to quit and write full time. Her second objection, the secrets of her past, doesn't faze him at all when she finally has the courage to tell him all. She knows of his decision never to marry again, which doesn't bother her as she doesn't plan to marry either. I loved seeing the happiness she and Max had together, both by themselves and with his children. His respect for her and his lack of judgement about her past goes a long way toward healing her heart. Their relationship changes the way she looks at things and she starts to wish for a real future with Max. She realizes that she's in love with him, but fears telling him because she knows it will change things. But those same changes make her realize that she deserves more than Max is offering, and though it breaks her heart she stands firm when she tells him so. I was so happy to see the way she had grown stronger in her belief in herself and how it paid off for her at the end.
I also loved the big part that family played in the story. Lani's relationship with her family had been so strained because of her past actions. Thanks to her relationship with Max she was finally able to overcome those problems and see that the love had always been there. It was fun watching them with Max and seeing them try to push him toward commitment. And I loved the closeness of the whole Bravo-Calabretti family. It was so much fun seeing them act like normal people. I really enjoyed the scenes with the kids, from Nick's complaints about the family breakfasts and dealing with his little sister to Lani and Max coping with Connie's upset stomach. I loved seeing Max as a normal dad rather than just a royal prince. One of the best parts was seeing Max's mom listen to Lani tell her about her past and be just as wonderful as Max about it. And then later telling Max to put his pride aside and let himself be happy. It's easy to see why she's such a wonderful queen and mother.