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It was quite a distinction to be the most beautiful and desirable debutante to join the marriage mart in a century, and also be the most hated woman in England. Oddly enough, Ophelia Reid had strived for that distinction, on both counts. It was her bane to be so beautiful that people behaved like utter fools around her.
The people gathered at Summers Glade, the Marquis of Birmingdale's country estate, were no different. Ophelia stopped at the top of the grand staircase. She'd hoped the foyer would be empty, but no such luck. It appeared that many of the people who had come for her wedding to the marquis's heir were gathered below, some who were, apparently, already aware that the wedding had been called off and were preparing to leave. Others appeared confused and were talking excitedly. But the moment she appeared, all eyes turned to her, and as usual the whispering began.
It might appear to the people below that she was making a grand entrance. She was rather fond of doing so and was quite practiced at it. But not this time. A grand exit was more like it, though not by her choice. She had hoped to leave unnoticed.
"When are you going to tell me what happened?" asked her maid, Sadie O'Donald, who was beside her.
"I'm not," Ophelia said stiffly.
"But you were supposed to get married today."
As if Ophelia could have overlooked that appalling fact. But now wasn't the time to discuss it. "Hush, we have an audience if you hadn't noticed."
Sadie said no more as she followed Ophelia down the stairs. The whispering grew louder. Ophelia even caught a few bits and pieces of conversations.
"First they're engaged, then they're not, then they are again, and now they've changed their minds yet again. She's too fickle, if you ask me."
"The groom said it was a mutual decision to cancel the wedding."
"I doubt it, she's just hard to please, but I would be too if I looked like her."
"I agree. It's a sin to be that beautiful."
"Careful, dear, your jealousy is showing."
" -- spoiled rotten if you ask me."
"Shh, she'll hear you. She has a viper's tongue, you know. You don't want her turning it on you."
"Good God, she's beautiful. An angel, a -- "
" -- back on the marriage block. Don't mind saying how delighted I am. Gives me a second chance."
"I thought she turned you down before the Season even began."
"Me and countless others, but we didn't know she was already engaged to MacTavish."
"Don't waste your time. Your title isn't grand enough for her. She could have a king if she set her cap for one."
"Surprised her parents didn't aspire to that. They're appalling social climbers, you know."
"And she isn't?"
"She just turned down the marquis's heir, what does that tell you?"
"That her parents are going to be furious with her, as they were when -- "
"Now Locke there might stand a chance as the next Duke of Norford. Surprised to see him back in England."
"He's not interested in getting married, or did you never hear that he left England just to get away from all those marriage-minded -- "
Ophelia pretended that she hadn't heard any of those whispers, but the mention of Raphael Locke, Viscount Lynnfield, made her look at him. She'd known he was there in the foyer bidding some of his acquaintances good-bye, or possibly leaving as well. He was the first person she'd noticed when she reached the stairs. But then a man as handsome as the Norford heir had drawn her notice from the moment she'd first glanced at him.
She'd even considered him briefly for a husband, before she'd gotten reengaged to Duncan MacTavish. But Locke had obviously gone over to the enemy camp, the camp that thought the worst of her. What had he called her? A "spiteful rumormonger." He'd even threatened to ruin her if she told anyone she thought that he'd been bedding Sabrina Lambert.
She had thought it was true. Why else was he paying so much attention to that little wren Sabrina? But he could have just told her she was mistaken, instead of insulting her. And she wished it had been anyone but him who'd caught her crying upstairs.
"How are we getting home?" Sadie whispered when they reached the bottom of the stairs.
"In my coach, of course," Ophelia replied.
"Your coach doesn't have a driver. The blasted man hasn't returned yet."
Ophelia had forgotten about that. Her father's man hadn't wanted to bring her back to Yorkshire in the first place, and once they'd arrived here after much persuasion on her part, he had insisted he'd lose his job if he didn't return to London posthaste to let her parents know where she had run off to. As if she hadn't intended to send off a note to them herself. In due time. When she stopped being so furious about that slap her father had given her after Duncan had broken their first engagement and they'd all been ousted from Summers Glade.
"We'll just have to borrow one of the marquis's footmen, I suppose. That fellow bringing down my trunks will do. You can inform him while I wait in the parlor."
She would have preferred to wait outside, away from the marquis's remaining guests, but while she'd already donned her traveling coat, it was designed to flatter her figure, not to provide warmth, and in the heart of winter it was simply too cold to stand outside for any length of time. But since it appeared that most of the guests were in the foyer waiting for their own coaches to be brought around, she hoped the parlor would be empty.
She moved into that room. It wasn't empty. The occupant was the one person she'd hoped never to see again, Mavis Newbolt, her onetime best friend, now her worst enemy. And it was too late to find a different place to wait. Mavis had noticed her.
"Running away with your tail between your legs?" Mavis smirked.
Oh, God, not again. Hadn't her former friend said enough when she'd arrived to prevent what everyone involved considered a tragic marriage? Apparently not.
"Hardly," Ophelia replied, her emotions well in hand now. Her old friend was not going to make her cry again. "How galling it must have been for you to do me that favor today, so I wouldn't have to marry the Scotsman."
"I told you I didn't do it for you. You're the last person I'd ever help."
"Yes, yes, I know, you were playing the heroine just for Duncan's sake. But you still saved me from having to marry him. I suppose I should thank you."
"Don't!" Mavis snarled, the curls on her head shaking. "No more pretenses, Pheli. We both hate each other -- "
"Stop it!" Ophelia cut in sharply before the wound opened again. "You don't have your audience now to revile me in front of, so the truth if you please. You were the only real friend I ever had and you know it. I loved you! If I didn't, I wouldn't have tried to protect you from Lawrence by showing you the truth about him. But you preferred to blame me for his perfidy. And, how did you put it? That the only reason you continued to abide my presence is you were waiting all this time to witness my downfall? And you called me spiteful?"
"I told you I barely recognize myself anymore," Mavis said defensively. "But that's your fault. You made me so bitter that I don't even like myself."
"No, I didn't, he did. Your precious Lawrence, who used you to get close to me. There, I've finally said it. I tried to spare you that too. He was begging me to marry him all the while he was courting you, but I'm done protecting you from the truth, Mavis."
"You're such a liar! And yet you branded me one in front of our friends."
"Oh, so now they're 'friends' again, those two leeches? When you pointed out today that Jane and Edith are no friends of mine? As if I don't know that? And you provoked me that day I called you a liar. You know you did. How long did you think I'd continue to put up with your catty, snide remarks without retaliating? You know better than anyone how little patience I have. But I reserved it for you. I certainly have none left for Jane and Edith, who we both know only come around because it's fashionable to be seen at my side. But you failed to mention that today, didn't you, when you were reviling me for all my faults. You claimed I use them?" Ophelia snorted. "You know very well it's just the opposite, that every one of my so-called friends use me and my popularity to further their own ends. Good God, you used to point that out yourself, when you were my friend."
"I knew you'd come up with excuses," Mavis said stiffly.
"The truth isn't an excuse," Ophelia countered. "I know all my own faults, and my temper is the worst of them. But who usually sets off my temper?"
"What has that to do with how spiteful you are?"
"You're the one who brought it up, Mavis. You claimed that Jane and Edith spent all their time with me trying to soothe my ruffled feathers so I wouldn't turn my spite on them. That was quite an allegation. Would you care to discuss it now that we don't have an audience for you to impress with your vindictiveness?"
Mavis gasped. "I'm not the vindictive one, Pheli, you are. And it was the absolute truth. You've turned on them in the past, yet you had the gall to try to deny it today."
"Because you were making more of it than it was. Of course I've lost my temper with them, many times, but you failed to mention I did so, because they're sycophants. All of my so-called friends are. And it's their toadying and insincere flattery that usually make me lose my temper in the first place."
Mavis shook her head. "I don't know why I bothered to point out how mean you are. You'll never change. You'll always be caught up in yourself, causing others misery."
"Oh, come now, we both know exactly why you said everything you did today. You even admitted you only continued to pretend to be my friend so you'd be around to witness my downfall. Well, have I fallen down, my dear? I don't think so. I'll return to London and marry one of those idiots who profess to love me, but what about you? Are you happy, now that you've spilled all of your bitterness at my feet? Oh, wait, you didn't exactly get the revenge you really wanted, did you? I've merely been saved from a disastrous marriage -- by you. And thank you very much. I mean that sincerely."
"Go to the devil!" Mavis snapped, and marched out of the room.
Ophelia closed her eyes, fighting back more tears. She should have just walked out of the room when she saw Mavis there. She shouldn't have rehashed that horrible scene she'd had with her old friend earlier.
"Should I applaud? And here I'd thought you two had finished the performance earlier."
Ophelia stiffened. Him. God, she couldn't believe she'd cried on his shoulder today. But she'd overcome that appalling weakness and was in control now.
She turned around and raised a brow at him. "Hardly a performance when we thought we were alone. Eavesdropping, Lord Locke? How shamefully boorish of you."
He grinned unrepentantly. "Couldn't help m'self, when your transformation is so fascinating. How fleeting was the damsel in distress. But I see the imperious ice queen is in true form again." "Go to the devil!" she shot back, borrowing Mavis's parting line. And as her former friend had done, she marched out of the room as well.
Copyright © 2007 by Johanna Lindsey
Posted August 4, 2008
I was surprisingly disapointed in this book. I was very interested to at first to see how Lindsey would twist the haughty trouble maker from The Heir into the heroine. Unfortunately I couldn't like Ophelia no matter how much Lindsey explained why she had such a vile temprament. It was also very hard to believe that Rafe would 'out of the goodness of his heart' attempt to change Ophelia for the better to benefit her. He never really seems that noble and self-less especially since a bet truely launched his quest. The novel also seriously lacked Lindsey charming wit that is normally delightfully funny and shocking.
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Posted December 6, 2014
My favorite in this series. I really could not believe that Ophelia could become a loveable character after reading The Heir, but JL did it along with Rafe. Two amazing character studies in this novel that gave me incite to some real life persons. Breathtaking. LORRAINEWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2014
I almost did not buy this sequel because I did not like the shrewish Ophilia and did want the likeable Rapheal to fall into her clutches. However, the author did a great job of humanizing Ophelia in a way that explained how her unhappy past had contributed to her present state. But more importantly, with Rafael's help, she was able to drop her defensive reactions and open her heart to others. At the end of the story I actually liked her and was happy she and Rafael found each other.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 18, 2012
Posted September 9, 2012
I just could not like the lead female, probably because I read the "Heir" first...But I doubt that, I just don't like characters that try to make people miserable because they are miserable. I pretty much hated her character in "The Heir"Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2012
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Posted August 27, 2010
This is my second book by this author (and first romance audio-book) and I will definitely go back for more! Storyline is amusing, the heroine is a misunderstood diva with a heart and of course the hero love interest is a do-gooder rogue one can't resist! While I wished there was one or two more passionate love scenes written in, the story moves along quickly, keeping you entertained throughout. It's read brilliantly by Laural Merlington. You can ascertain which character she's reading by her talented accents, dialects, and inflections.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2010
I got this book for 2 bucks and thought I would try a new author. Johanna Lindsey was pretty good. I liked her style of writing and it was an easy read. The characters were interesting.
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Posted October 21, 2009
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It's not the best story that I've listened too but it wasn't too bad. It just seemed to be missing a little something. It needed a little more excitement or scandel. Anyways, look for this one on sale. It would be a nice lazy read if you like gentle romance. But in my opinion, there are better things out there to read (such as my suggestions).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Johanna Lindsey is my favorite author so I may be biased, but this was a very good book. Touching, romantic, and very well written. I would recomend this book to anyone looking for a good book to escape with.
The other two books I recomend are in the same series with "The Heir" first, "The Devil Who Tammed Her" second, and "A Rogue Of My Own" third.
Hope you enjoy the book!
Posted April 28, 2009
I always read reviews to buy books so i don't waste my money. I will no longer do that after reading these negative reviews. I loved this book, it was nice that the main characters were not perfect. I could not put the book down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Wonderful book. Characters were so real, I found myself loving some, and hating others.
Ophelia, is the poor little rich girl who had everything, and yet she had nothing. Having everything sounds so nice, but through Opelia we learn just how lonely and unhappy someone who is suppose to have everything can be.
Raphael, is the man who is suppose to make sure the heartless Ophelia gets her just desserts. Only he finds that the heartless wretch he thinks her to be turns out to be someone so completely different.
The two of them are thrown together, but befor they part, they both know the true person that is Ophelia. Unfortunately, through circumstance not of their control, Ophelia must once again don her protective cloak of spite to protect her fragile heart.
A wonderfully written book, (as all Lindsay's are) This is one of my favorites of any that she's written, along with the whole Malory Family Series.
Posted March 23, 2009
I Also Recommend:
i've borrowed this book from my local library, and read it twice, and it was on sale on b&n, so i decided to buy it even though i NEVER buy books, it was a HARDcover, and was the price of a paperback! and i don't regret buying it at all! i've read it over another couple times.
it's so touching to read! this isn't one of those romance books that're centered around intercourse--they hardly had any, but i feel so moved!
i cried the frist time i read it--i love the characters! it is a MUST read!
Posted March 6, 2009
I really liked this book. I didnt read The Heir 1st and dont think I missed a lot. I didnt like Ophelia in the the beginning but she turned out so sweet :) I loved Rafael. He is kindhearted and helps others. I dont see how the other readers thought he is selfish :( I will definitely recommend this book :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2008
In order to understand this book you have to read " The heir " before you read this book.After reading " The heir " i was eager to read " The Devil who tamed her". In " the heir" Ophelia was a mean character,although she was very beautiful,but she vas very spiteful.Nobody really liked her.Raphael Locke took his time to teach her a lesson and to prove that he can change her.As it turnes out Ophalia was not so bad after all.As the matter of fact i started to like her character.I liked this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 24, 2008