Her Scandalous Affair

Her Scandalous Affair

3.7 7
by Candice Hern
     
 

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After this decree from his grandmother,Richard, Viscount Mallory, goes insearch of the long-lost family heirloom. Imagine his surprise when he spots the exquisite heart-shaped ruby brooch on the bosom of the equally exquisite Lady Isabel Weymouth! Could this popular young socialite actually be a jewel thief?

Richard is determined that the brooch be returned to

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Overview

After this decree from his grandmother,Richard, Viscount Mallory, goes insearch of the long-lost family heirloom. Imagine his surprise when he spots the exquisite heart-shaped ruby brooch on the bosom of the equally exquisite Lady Isabel Weymouth! Could this popular young socialite actually be a jewel thief?

Richard is determined that the brooch be returned to his family. So when an opportunity presents itself, he pilfers the jewel from the lady's bedroom, but is stunned when she steals it back the very next day! Clearly the enchanting Isabel is a more formidable opponent than he imagined, and the former soldier finds himself battling wits and wills with the captivating temptress. Passion ignites between them as the competition heats up, and suddenly there is more than a ruby brooch at stake in this game of hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Commanded by his formidable grandmother to ease his dying grandfather's mind and find the Mallory Heart, an heirloom ruby that has been missing for 50 years, Richard, Viscount Mallory, heads for the London social scene. Surprised on his first night in town when he finds the jewel adorning the bosom of the lovely Lady Isabel Weymouth, Richard has no qualms about surreptitiously reclaiming it. But Isabel is not about to let an aristocratic thief have the brooch that belonged to her grandmother. The resultant alternating thefts, combined with the sparks that sizzle between the stubborn pair, make for a lively, well-written, satisfying romp that will keep readers engaged until the very end. A popular writer of Regency-set historicals (Once a Gentleman), Hern lives in San Francisco. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060565169
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/30/2004
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Her Scandalous Affair

Chapter One

June 1814

"And so you must find the Mallory Heart and bring it home at once. No matter what it takes."

Richard Mallory stared at his grandmother in astonishment. The Countess of Dunstable was a stately, reserved woman who had never, as far as he could recall, made a flippant remark or jest in her life. He had to assume she was quite serious.

He stood straight and tall as he faced her, with hands clasped behind his back in a postion of formal ease he had employed so often when addressing a superior officer. And there was none more superior than his grandmother. She sat ramrod stiff on the edge of a gilt French chair that had seen better days.

"Let me be certain I understand," he said. "You called me home not because Grandfather is dying, but because you want me to locate a family jewel that has been missing these past fifty years?"

"It is because the earl is dying that the jewel must be restored to us. He has been most agitated about it."

"Has he?"

Richard had been raised by his grandparents from the time both his mother and father perished in an overturned carriage when he was still in leading strings. In all those years, he could remember only a single occasion when his grandfather had mentioned the Mallory Heart. Richard had been about eight years old when he first heard the story of the large heartshaped ruby from his older brother, and had asked his grandfather about it. The earl had confirmed its existence and how it had come into the family, but had otherwise been quite reticent on the subject. Even at so young an age, Richard had understood it to be a topic best avoided. He always assumed his grandfather felt guilty that the jewel had been lost on his watch.

"Yes, he seems most upset about it," the countess said, her own distress evident in the tight lines around her mouth and the slight tremor in her voice. "About not wanting to ... to die before it has been restored to the family."

"And you summoned me from France to find it? Was there no one else you could have called upon?"

It was the wrong thing to say. She narrowed her eyes in a look of displeasure he had known well as a boy. She had always favored his brother, Arthur, the heir to the earldom and the most charming, considerate of men. Richard had been the troublesome brother, always into mischief. But Arthur had died last year and now Richard was Viscount Mallory and his grandfather's heir.

"I understood the fighting was over," she said. "You are needed here now. You ought to have returned last year."

When Arthur died. Richard had not even learned of his brother's death until four months after the fact. He would have come home if he could, but he'd been otherwise occupied. "You know it was impossible for me to return, Grandmother. My regiment -- "

"Was engaged in some battle or other." She dismissed the event with a wave of her hand.

"Vittoria." He spoke through clenched teeth and made an effort to curb his irritation at her cavalier disregard for what the army had done to keep her, and the rest of England, safe from Bonaparte. He'd lost several good men during the charges that day. Vittoria had been an important victory, not one to be so easily dismissed. But the countess had never approved of his soldiering. It had been his grandfather who'd understood his restlessness and bought him a commission in the Dragoon Guards.

"I am sorry I could not come home sooner, Grandmother. I was heartsick to hear about Arthur's death, believe me, but the war did not allow time off for grieving. However, with Bonaparte routed at Toulouse and sent packing to Elba, I was able to leave my regiment as soon as I received your urgent message. I was worried about Grandfather."

"As you should be."

"I will go up to see him now. It has been too long and I have ... missed him." It was true. Richard had spent little time at home these last dozen years while the wars raged on the continent. Even so,h e was still devoted to the man who'd raised him,who'd taught him about duty, about honor,ab outwhat itmeant to be a man.

"He will be pleased to know you have returned safely," his grandmother said. She cleared her throat. "As am I."

He smiled. It was the closest thing to approval he was ever likely to hear from her. "And I should like to ask him about the Mallory Heart."

"No!" Her eyes widened with anxiety. "You must not mention it to him, Richard. It upsets him too much and his heart is too weak. I beg you not to distress him."

"His condition is that serious?"

"He is dying."

She kept her emotions in check, as always, but sorrow was evident in the slight hitch in her voice, and a sharp pang of sympathy shot through his gut. The anticipated loss of his beloved grandfather weighed heavily on his own heart. Though Richard had never had as close a relationship with his stern grandmother, she surely loved the earl as much as he did. His death would rip a hole in both their lives.

He took a deep breath, then asked, "How long?"

"The doctor says a month or two at most, though additional strain on his heart could take him at any moment. That is why you must not mention the jewel. It is one of the topics that seems to upset him the most."

"I wonder why?"

She lifted her shoulder a fraction. "It is a private matter between the earl and me. All the previous countesses of Dunstable have worn the Mallory Heart. It has always been a special ... " Her voice cracked and she took a moment before going on ...

Her Scandalous Affair. Copyright © by Candice Hern. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Candice Hern is the award-winning author of historical romances set during the English Regency, a period she knows well through years of collecting antiques and fashion prints of the era. She travels to England regularly, always in search of more historical and local color to help bring her books to life.

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