A Perfect Gentleman: A Novelby Candace Camp
Forced to marry an American heiress to save his family, Graeme Parr, Earl of Montclair, vowed their marriage would be in name only. Abigail Price thought handsome, aristocratic Graeme was her knight/i>/i>
From New York Times bestselling author Candace Camp comes a delicious and steamy marriage-of-convenience historical romance in A Perfect Gentleman.
Forced to marry an American heiress to save his family, Graeme Parr, Earl of Montclair, vowed their marriage would be in name only. Abigail Price thought handsome, aristocratic Graeme was her knight in shining armor, rescuing her from her overbearing father. But when she was spurned by her husband on their wedding night, Abigail fled home to New York.
Now, years later, Abigail has returned. But this sophisticated, alluring woman is not the drab girl Graeme remembers. Appalled by her bold American ways but drawn to her beauty, Graeme follows her on a merry chase through London’s elegant ballrooms to its dockside taverns—why is his wife back? What could she want of him now?
Torn between desire and suspicion, Graeme fears that Abby, like her unprincipled father, has a devious plan to ruin him. But is Abigail’s true desire Graeme’s destruction...or winning his love at last?
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Read an Excerpt
A Perfect Gentleman
There was someone in his room.
Graeme’s eyes flew open, and he found himself staring at a massive square head on a level with his eyes. The dog regarded him unblinkingly, its graying forehead creased as if in deep concern. Graeme, muscles instinctively tensed, relaxed, letting out a sigh.
“Good Lord. James . . .” Graeme turned his gaze toward the man in the doorway, shoulder carelessly braced against the frame. “A fellow could have a heart attack, waking up with that beast staring at one. And what the devil are you doing in my room at the crack of dawn?”
“Hardly the crack of dawn, cousin.” The lean, dark man snorted and strolled farther into the bedroom, his gray eyes reflecting an icy amusement. “We’ve already eaten breakfast and driven over from Grace Hill. Even my mother is up and about, and you know Tessa is never seen before noon.”
Graeme sat up, wincing, and raised a hand to his head. “I had trouble going to sleep last night.”
“Too much brandy, eh?” James crossed to the window and thrust aside the draperies, letting in a shaft of light that stabbed straight into Graeme’s eyes.
Graeme turned his head away, but with a sigh swung his legs out of bed and stood up. “I thought you were in London.”
“We returned yesterday.” James picked up the dressing gown lying on the back of the chair and tossed it to Graeme.
“That doesn’t explain what you’re doing in my house.” He pulled on the robe, adding darkly, “Or why Fletcher let you come up to roust me out of bed.”
“Oh, he tried to stop me.” James tugged at the tasseled cord to summon Graeme’s valet. “Surely you don’t think I listened.”
“Of course not.” Graeme rubbed his hands over his face, trying to pull his scattered thoughts together. “You say Aunt Tessa is here, too?”
“But why?” Was it possible he had so overslept? He had consumed a good deal of brandy last night. He had been somewhat at loose ends—well, he might as well admit it, he had been crushingly bored. But surely he could hold his liquor better than that. Graeme glanced toward the clock. “It’s barely ten. I’ve never known Aunt Tessa to venture out before noon.”
“Ah, but we have been charged by the dowager countess to deliver a message to you. Mother would never miss that opportunity, even if she had to rise at your proverbial crack of dawn. Gossip, after all, is her métier.”
“Gossip? What are you talking about?”
“Get dressed and come downstairs, and I’ll tell you in detail.” James strolled to the door, slapping his hand against his thigh to summon the gigantic mastiff, which had grown bored with the talk and was now stretched out on the floor, taking up what looked to be a third of the room. “Your mother is, of course, insisting on laying out a second breakfast for us all.”
“James . . .” Graeme said through clenched teeth, letting his words drop one by one like stones. “What in the bloody hell is going on?”
“Lady Montclair is in London.”
“My grandmother?” Graeme frowned in confusion. “But—well, of course she’s in London; you just said she’d given you—”
“I’m not talking about the dowager countess. I meant the other Lady Montclair.”
“My mother? But she’s—”
“I meant,” James said with heavy emphasis, “the third Lady Montclair. Your wife.”
With that parting shot, Graeme’s cousin turned and walked out, the mastiff padding at his heels.
Graeme stared after him, frozen. His wife! He sat down hard on the ottoman in front of the chair. The pounding in his head increased its beat. His wife.
He tried to summon up an image of the woman he had married ten years ago. Tall, thin, and drab, her black hair a stark contrast to pale skin. Quiet and always dressed in white, she had faded into the background. He had paid little attention to her looks, other than to see she was nothing like Laura. She had large eyes. He could not recall their color, but he remembered them fixed on him, watching, measuring. He’d had no idea what was in her head; in truth, he hadn’t cared to know. She had, he thought now, sat like a spider in her web, waiting while her father pulled him in.
Resentment and anger, long buried, stirred in him. They had wanted a title, Abigail Price and her father, and they’d had the money to pay for it. And if their fortune was not enough to secure it, they had other means.
Graeme had known he had to marry wealth to save the estate. He’d been prepared to do his duty, even if it meant giving up Laura, the woman he loved. What he hadn’t expected was that they would blackmail him into it. But Thurston Price was not the sort to leave anything to chance.
Grimly, Graeme rose and began to dress, not bothering to wait for his valet. What had possessed the woman to come back? His life had been . . . well, maybe not happy, but comfortable with her far away in New York. It was not the cozy future he had once envisioned with the woman he loved—raising their children, growing old together—but at least he was spared the daily presence of the wife he’d never wanted. There had been a bit of a scandal, of course, what with his bride fleeing on their wedding night. And one couldn’t explain to everyone that he was happy to see her gone. But the family had weathered that. He had kept the estate intact. He had concealed the stain on the family name. And he had his solitude, his undisturbed peace.
What could Abigail Price want from him now? He had given her the name she and her father had so desperately coveted. She had the life she wanted in the far-off city where she belonged.
It had been something of a shock ten years ago when he returned to her hotel suite the day after their wedding, armed with an apology for his blunt, even rude, assessment of their marriage the night before, as well as a proposal for living politely apart, only to be informed that his wife had checked out that morning. His astonishment was quickly replaced by relief that, just as he’d thought, Abigail had been interested only in acquiring a title. Having obtained that, she has raced back to her own country.
She had remained there for ten years, apparently as content as he to live without the burden of a spouse. He had heard, now and then, rumors of how she reigned in splendor in New York society, her parties the most elegant, her invitations the most sought-after, but, in truth, he had little interest in what she did . . . as long as she did it an ocean away from him.
When he strode into the dining room downstairs a few minutes later, he found the others waiting for him, James standing at the window a few feet apart from the two middle-aged women seated side by side at the table. The sweet-faced woman in black, her brown hair liberally sprinkled with white, was his mother, and she looked up at him with her usual smile. She was a softened, slightly faded, and pleasingly plump version of the woman beside her, whose thick dark hair, startlingly silver eyes, and lush curves still brought men clustering around her.
“Mother.” He went around the table and bent to kiss his mother’s cheek. “Aunt Tessa. How kind of you to visit.” Graeme smiled. One could not help but smile at his aunt.
Aunt Tessa, of course, rose as he turned to her and flung her arms around him. “Graeme! My favorite nephew.” She stepped back, hands on his arms, and tilted her head, studying him. “Handsome as ever, I see.”
“Your only nephew,” he reminded her. “And you are as radiant as ever.”
“Flatterer.” Tessa smiled in her impish way. “Just what I like in a man.”
“Mother, must you flirt with every man you see?” James joined them.
“Don’t be such a stodgy old man.” Tessa turned the same fetching grin on her son. “One has to practice one’s art when one can, you know.”
“Mm. So I’ve noticed.” James sat down beside her, nodding toward Graeme. “Better get yourself a cup of tea, coz. You’ll need it. A dollop of whiskey might help.”
Graeme sat down, accepting the cup of tea the butler poured. He took a sip and gave a nod to Fletcher, who discreetly melted away, closing the door behind him. “Very well. I am braced for the worst. What is going on, and why did Grandmother send you?”
“I told you. Your absent and very unlamented wife has returned to London.”
“Really, James,” Tessa protested. “You haven’t the faintest idea how to tell a story properly.” She turned to her nephew, eyes sparkling. “She appeared last Tuesday at Lady Rochester’s soiree. No one had the least idea who she was. She was wearing this marvelous satin gown of midnight blue, with the most wonderful lace draped—”
“I don’t think Graeme is concerned with the style ball gown she wore,” James interrupted drily.
“Mirabelle and I are.” Tessa addressed her sister, “It was just divine, Mira; you should have seen the satin roses over the bustle. It was made by Worth or I know nothing of fashion.”
“No one would dispute your eye for clothes, Aunt Tessa,” Graeme said with more amiability than Tessa’s son. “But why is Abigail here?”
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” Tessa gave a careless shrug. “Neither has anyone else. But of course, everyone is guessing like mad. Lady Crowley is certain she’s come to confront you—but you know Lady Crowley, she is always so dramatic.”
Graeme shot a laughing glance at his cousin at the prospect of Aunt Tessa’s deeming anyone dramatic. “But what would she confront me about?”
“That is why everyone is so interested, darling boy.”
“Surely she could not be angry with Graeme.” Mirabelle frowned. “It was she who left him, after all.” She sighed. “And she seemed such an unexceptionable girl. I rather liked her.”
“You like everyone, Mirabelle.” Tessa took up her tale again. “The most popular theory is that she has come to act as a matchmaker.”
“Matchmaker! What are you talking about?” A sizzle of alarm ran up Graeme’s spine.
“For wealthy American girls, dear. They say she will use her British connections to find noblemen in desperate need of an infusion of cash and match them up with American heiresses. After all, she did it for herself.”
“What connections?” Graeme asked. “She has no British connections.”
“There’s you,” James pointed out.
“I’m not going to help her find her victims,” Graeme said in an affronted voice.
“You know that, but does she?” James retorted. “Personally, I think you should help her if it means she’ll leave the city.”
“Of course, there are those who believe she simply wants to flaunt her, um, friend in your face.”
“Friend?” Graeme’s voice iced over. “What friend?”
“There’s an American who dances attendance on her,” James said. “Apparently he’s a business associate of her father’s.”
“Business associate?” Graeme’s lip curled. “Fellow crook is more like it. Is her father here, as well?”
“No,” James told him. “Thurston’s still in America, no doubt perpetrating stock swindles on other unsuspecting souls.”
“At least there’s some relief in that.”
“I don’t know how that dreadful man can do such things,” Mirabelle said, her eyes suddenly glinting with tears. “Poor Reginald. He had no idea . . .”
“No, of course not, Mother.”
“It’s my opinion Thurston Price should have gone to gaol, enticing innocent people to invest in something just so he could make an enormous profit, then leaving them to crash.” Mirabelle pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at her eyes.
Her sister reached over and patted her hand. “Reggie always was inclined to great optimism.”
“Yes, he was, wasn’t he?” Mirabelle gave her a tremulous smile. “It was one of the many things everyone loved about him.”
Everyone had loved his father altogether too much, Graeme thought, but he said only, “Unfortunately, what Mr. Price did was not illegal.”
“Hmph. Only wicked.” Mirabelle sniffed.
“Yes, wicked indeed. But that is long past. It has nothing to do with why Miss Pri— I mean, Lady Montclair, is here. Is she having—” He glanced at the women. “I beg your pardon, Mother, Aunt Tessa. This is not a fit topic for ladies.”
“Good heavens, Graeme, don’t stop just when you’re getting to the interesting part,” Tessa exclaimed. “One can be too polite, you know.”
Graeme looked at James, whose eyes were brimming with laughter. “Oh, very well. Is she having an affair with this American chap?”
“I have no idea.” James shrugged. “The thought doesn’t seem to disturb you.”
“I don’t care what she does. If she thinks to hurt me with an affair, she’s fair and far off.”
“But, Graeme, dear,” his mother said in a soft voice. “What about the heir? What if she . . . you know . . . bore another man’s son? What would you do?”
“It would be a dreadful scandal,” Tessa agreed, her voice threaded with excitement. “Even if she doesn’t have a child, it makes for titillating gossip. Merely by appearing in London again, it has stirred up all the old gossip. Everyone is rehashing the wedding—”
“Oh! That ostentatious display!” Mirabelle shook her head.
“Perhaps more importantly,” James added, “there was the matter of the new bride taking to her heels the following morning.”
“Yes, really, Graeme, couldn’t you have held on to her for longer than a night?” Tessa asked.
His mother whirled on her sister. “Tessa! It wasn’t Graeme’s fault! He could hardly have kept her prisoner. I am sure leaving is what she had in mind all along.”
“Well.” Tessa turned up her hands in an eloquently questioning manner. “There were all those rumors . . .”
“Could we please not discuss the details of my wedding night?” Graeme ran his hand back through his hair. “You said Grandmother sent you with a message for me. What is it?”
“She wants you to come back to London and deal with your wife,” James said tersely. “It’s Lady Eugenia’s opinion you should bring her to the estate, where she can’t create any more talk.”
“Bring her here? To Lydcombe Hall?” Graeme straightened. “You can’t be serious. She wants me to live with Abigail?”
“Men have been known to live with their wives,” James offered mildly.
“I won’t. I refuse to have her here, to subject my mother to—”
“Oh, no, dear, I won’t mind.” Mirabelle leaned across the table and patted his hand. “Truly. I am sure she cannot be that disagreeable. It’s a large house. No doubt we could all rub along well enough for a while, at least until the scandal dies down. Maybe she regrets running off like that years ago. It could have been a momentary impulse, just a fit of nerves, you know, and now she would like another chance.”
“Speaking of great optimism,” Graeme said in an exasperated voice. He sighed and squeezed his mother’s hand gently. “No. I don’t think the Prices are given to fits of nerves. I don’t know what she wants, but I feel sure it is nothing good. And Grandmother is right, as always. I shall have to go to London to settle the matter.”
“Will you bring her back here?” Mirabelle asked. “What room, I wonder, should I make up for her?”
“Don’t bother, Mother. I don’t intend to bring Abigail home. I am going to make sure she leaves.”
Meet the Author
Candace Camp is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than sixty novels of contemporary and historical romance, including the bestselling Regency romances Enraptured, Treasured, and The Marrying Season. She grew up in Texas in a newspaper family, which explains her love of writing, but she earned a law degree and practiced law before making the decision to write full time. She has received several writing awards, including the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. Visit her at Candace-Camp.com.
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Yet another enjoyable read from one of my favorite authors! Graeme and Abby falling in love after ten years being married and apart in addition to solving a mystery together was interesting and suspenseful to the end. I really enjoyed their interaction and am now looking forward to James's and Laura's story in "A Temporary Marriage." The only thing I had difficulty with was the Soldier's Fund and how it came about that Abby's father created the havoc which involved so many characters. I felt something was missing there and underdeveloped in the scheme.
I loved this story!! Abigail was so much fun to read about. She was definitely not your usual society miss. I really like Graeme too. It was fun to watch Abby and Graeme get to know each other since they didn't get to do it when they got married. Then, of course, we have the added mystery of what happened all those years ago. I've been a fan of Camp's for many years and she had done it again with this wonderful story!
When the Earl's wife returns to England after a 10 year absence, her husband is dismayed. What does she want? Why does she seem so changed from the wallflower who hardly spoke a word to anyone? And what is this inconvenient attraction he feels toward her? Recommended read and only noted two out of place Americanisms! I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.
graeme parr, earl of montclair, has always been a perfect gentleman, at least until his wedding night where he behaves like a total jerk to his young bride. he is upset and angry because her father has forced him into this marriage, and when he tells abby that he intends to never consume their marriage, that he has no respect for her or her father's way of capturing husbands, he doesn't realize how he is shattering her illusions. because his truth is that he is in love with someone else, but for his family's sake, he has been forced to marry for money. so abby and her father can keep the title they've paid for, but they can't take anything else from him. he has nothing left to give. abigail thought he was her knight in shining armor. saving her from a life with an overbearing, tyrannical dad. she had no idea what machinations her father employed behind her back. and when she realizes that her husband isn't the man she thought he was, she runs away, first to the continent, and then to new york, and ten years pass before they see each other again. when abby returns to london, she knows she's going to have to get graeme's attention somehow. he's too proud to just seek her just out of curiosity. it takes a while to get graeme to come round, but once they are able to have a private conversation and lay their cards out on the table, it's clear that there is an attraction between them that sparks wildly out of control when they are in the same room together. and that indulging in that attraction will fulfill graeme's need for an heir and abby's longing for a child. they cling to those excuses, even as they find that they don't wish to be apart from one another. when abby's life is endangered on more than one occasion, graeme brings her into his home. they also start working together on figuring out whether or not his father really was guilty of robbing his charity. that particular piece of intelligence is what abby's father used to blackmail graeme into the marriage. watching graeme and abby's relationship deepen over their desire for each other and to solve the mystery is a delight. these two characters are so clearly in love with each other, that the fact that it takes them so long to realize, verbalize their love to each other is a little frustrating. but they get there, and it's so worth it. also, i am so excited for the next book in this series, both helen and james are great secondary characters in a perfect gentleman. and it makes perfect sense that they'd be paired together and i can't wait. **a perfect gentleman will publish on march 28, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/gallery, threshold, pocket books in exchange for my honest review.
A Perfect Gentleman ' A Perfect Gentleman' by Candace Camp is the story of Graeme and Abby. Ms. Camp is one of my favorite authors so as soon as I saw her name with this book I had to have it. So happy to say that this book did not disappoint! I could not put the book down so I ended up reading it until the early hours of the morning....still worth the book-hangover! Graeme and Abby story actually started about 10 years ago when they were married. Graeme was pretty much blackmailed in to marring Abby by her father. Abby knew her father was very controlling and a harsh business man but did not have a clue what her father was doing to Graeme. So right after the wedding Graeme made it clear that he did not want her nor is she every to hold his heart. That he is in love with someone else. Graeme also told her some of what her father had done. Graeme then walked out. Well Abby being a young 18 year old was heart broken and she up and left London. Abby headed back to NY to make a life for herself. Now 10 years later she is back in London and Graeme isn't happy about it. He at first tries to talk her into leaving and going back but it does not work. Abby has chanced a lot in physical and internal appears which has made it hard for Graeme to resist her. But when Abby starts to get notes telling her there is more going on to her marriage 10 years ago than she knows so goes forward to find out...which puts her in danger. Can Graeme get past his feeling he thought he had for Abby and move forward with the new feelings that are coming out? Can he help keep Abby safe when someone is out to hurt her? This was another great story by Ms. Camp!"My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read.
Graeme Parr has sold his soul and betrayed the woman he loves to save his family from financial ruin. He's a man deceived by his new American wife—she has bought herself a husband with a title. He swears that the only thing he'll give his wife is his name—nothing more—and he makes sure he lets her know on their wedding day. Abigail Price is overjoyed that the Earl of Montclair will be her husband. He's handsome, sophisticated, and everything she's always dreamt of—a gallant knight rescuing her from her overbearing father. A husband to cherish, and love, a family with which to belong. Her dreams are shattered when on their wedding night he rejects he,r leaving her alone and brokenhearted. Fleeing to New York, she never looked back until . . . Fast forward ten years later to a more mature and stunning Abigail, when she returns to England with a proposition for her husband. Graeme is flustered and stunned at her appearance and dreads the scandal. All he wants is his wife to go back the way she came. But when attempts on her life are made, he's forced to keep her close, and all he can think of is keeping her closer. Can Graeme leave his suspicions aside and try to salvage his marriage? Can Abigail win his love or will he reject her once again? A true page turner, this story has intrigue and mystery. Emotions and desires have Graeme slowly shedding his uptight self and accepting his feelings for Abby. A hero who redeems himself a heroine worth fighting for and a love that has survived the test of time. Candace Camp writes a wonderful story of mystery and blackmail with some steamy scenes that are scandalous. Star rating 4 1/2 Steam rating 4 1/2 Received a complimentary copy from NetGalley for my honest opinion
1871 Graeme Parr, Earl of Montclair, has married American heiress, Abigail (Abby) Price for her money and she knows it. Graeme is in love with another woman but is doing his duty to save his family. Abby hopes that she can win his love in time. But on their wedding night Graeme informs Abby that their marriage is in name only and that he is in love with someone else. 1881 Graeme learns from his friend that his wife in in town. After the shocking news given her by Graeme, Abby returned to New York and has stayed there for 10 years. Why is she back? Graeme’s mother tells him that she learned Abby is going to act as a matchmaker between wealthy American girls and British noblemen needing money. Graeme’s family is in a tizzy thinking that Graeme should go to London and bring Abby to his home, Lydcombe Hall. However, he has decided he will simply make her leave England. Seeing one another again at a soiree is awkward for Graeme because he sees Abby as the beautiful and poised woman she has become. However, he acts cool to her. She tells him that she wants a baby and realizing he needs an heir, he agrees. In the meantime, Abby insists that she maintain her independence by living in a hotel room and Graeme will live in his London home. Later, she finds a cryptic and unsigned message left for her in her hotel room asking if she wants to know the truth about her marriage. Puzzled, she wonders what this means. But when a meeting with this mystery man turns deadly, Abby moves in with Graeme. Together, they finally get to know one another and romance sparks. However, there is a mystery of misplaced funds that hangs over the memory of Graeme’s deceased father and Graeme and Abby seek to find the answer. This is a good marriage of convenience story that takes the reader from the hurt and resentment to understanding. Graeme is a bit of a stick but Abby is a total sweetheart. Do read this story and I’m sure it will warm your heart. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.