The Husband List (Effington Family & Friends Series)

The Husband List (Effington Family & Friends Series)

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by Victoria Alexander

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An Unexpected Husband

Against her better judgment, Lady Gillian Marley needs to find herself a husband -- and quickly. To claim her uncle's unexpected bequest she must marry by her next birthday, which leaves only two months to find a malleable mate. Topping her list of eligible candidates is the honorable Earl of Shelbrooke,

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An Unexpected Husband

Against her better judgment, Lady Gillian Marley needs to find herself a husband -- and quickly. To claim her uncle's unexpected bequest she must marry by her next birthday, which leaves only two months to find a malleable mate. Topping her list of eligible candidates is the honorable Earl of Shelbrooke, yet one look at the very handsome but enigmatic nobleman and Gillian knows that cajoling him into a marriage of convenience will be hardly convenient at all.

A Marriage of Inconvenience

Far from immune to Gillian's entrancing charms, the last thing Richard Shelton is about to bind himself into is a chaste marriage. Though the inheritance is more than and tempting, Richard knows the lady herself is the real prize and isn't about to allow Gillian to deny the burning fervor that sparks between them. Now he has only two months to convince her to be his wife in full ... before his mysterious secret is revealed and their lives explode irrevocably into scandal.

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Editorial Reviews

Julia Quinn
Warm, wise and witty!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alexander (The Wedding Bargain) has a marvelous ear for witty dialogue and creates winning characters. Unfortunately, the plot of this otherwise terrific Regency rides includes twin clich s: a will with an outrageous stipulation and a hero masquerading as another man (think Scarlet Pimpernel). Widowed Lady Gillian Marley persuades friends to draw up a list of bachelors so she can fulfill the condition of her uncle's will that she marry before her 30th birthday to inherit 600,000. The money would augment her small income and enable her to fund a home for deserving female artists. Topping the list is the impoverished Earl of Shelbrooke, Richard Shelton, once a rake, now living a double life (he's an oil painter, a shocking calling for an aristocrat), trying to shore up the little that's left of the family fortune and provide dowries for four sisters. Will the earl lower himself for cold, hard cash? Will the lovely Gillian settle for a loveless marriage of convenience? The sex gets hot and heavy before the final answer in this delightful read. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Effington Family & Friends Series
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Chapter One

Spring 1818...

Where on earth was the blasted man?

Lady Gillian Marley resisted the urge to stalk to her front door, throw it open, and scour the streets of London for him herself.

What if he wasn't coming at all?

The thought tightened the muscles in her shoulders, but she refused to let her well-practiced smile so much as twitch. Instead, she surveyed the room with the air of serene confidence worn only by a hostess who has accomplished the difficult task of melding a diverse group of people into a cohesive gathering.

There were perhaps twenty in attendance at her salon tonight. In one corner, several members of Parliament argued amicably about some obscure issue. Another grouping dissected the latest work of a rising poet, while the merits of a new exhibit of paintings held the attention of yet another duster of guests.

Gillian's skill as a hostess in such a setting was unrivaled, her reputation for gatherings of this nature unequaled. The picture she presented to the world was, as always, cool and controlled and competent.

Not a single guest here would suspect every nerve in her body was stretched as taut as a piano wire. Not even the most astute observer would imagine the upheaval in her stomach. And absolutely no one would ever dream it took every ounce of self-discipline she possessed not to scream aloud in sheer frustration.

Where was Shelbrooke?

Gillian glanced at the doorway once again, just as she had every few minutes since her guests had begun arriving. He should have been here half an hour ago. Oh, certainly it was not unusual for attendees to arrive late. But tonight theonly guest whose presence she wished for, the only guest who mattered, was the only guest who had not yet seen fit to cross her threshold.

Surely, he had not changed his mind? He'd responded to her invitation with a terse note of acceptance, and it would be unforgivable of him to renege now. How could the man be so impolite? Had he no sense of proper behavior? She was not about to align herself with anyone as rude as to accept an invitation then fail to appear without so much as a message of apology. It would certainly serve him right.

Still, her rejection would not have the desired effect on Shelbrooke, since the man had no idea of her intentions.

Gillian forced the subject, and the accompanying flurry of nerves, to the back of her mind and turned her attention to her guests. She dutifully meandered from group to group, offering an observation here, a comment there. Any other evening, she would have taken part enthusiastically in one discussion or another, but tonight she simply couldn't concentrate. She paused at a small knot of guests gathered before a new painting her brother Thomas had sent her and listened halfheartedly.

". . surely, Sir Edmond, you're not suggesting art, has no merit unless it includes figures?"

Sir Edmond, a collector noted for his extravagance but not necessarily his taste, adopted a smug expression. "Come now, Mr. Addison, without depictions of the human form, this is nothing more than a pretty picture. There is a reason why great art typically portrays some significant moment in history--"

"And is there something wrong simply with a pretty picture?" A wry voice sounded behind her, and she turned sharply.

Richard Shelton, the Earl of Shelbrooke, stood with his hands clasped behind his back, studying the painting with an air of thoughtful consideration. Her heart skipped a beat.

So this was the man who'd filled her thoughts in recent days. She hadn't stood this close to him in years. He was a good six inches taller than she, his dark brows pulled together in concentration. His hair was a deep, rich walnut, with an unruly curl and just a shade too long, as if he'd forgotten to keep it trimmed or simply didn't care. Wasn't he able to afford a valet?

Sir Edmond's eyes narrowed as if he couldn't believe this unknown newcomer's temerity to question his opinion. "Without an aspect of humanity, a painting has no emotion. No soul as it were."

"Nonsense," Mr. Addison, a critic of some note, snorted in disdain. "How can you look at a scene like this and say it has no soul? Why, you can almost smell the fresh scent of the grasses and feel the winds blowing the clouds across that sky."

"One could say the painting expresses not the soul of man but the soul of God," Lord Shelbrooke said mildly.

"The soul of God." Sir Edmond's face reddened with outrage. "What blasphem--"

"What perception..." Mr. Addison laughed. "I don't believe we've met."

"I have just now arrived." He turned to her and took her hand. "Please forgive me, Lady Gillian, I was unavoidably detained." He raised her hand to his lips, his gaze never leaving hers.

His eyes, too, were brown, deep and endless and intense, and for the briefest moment she wondered if he could see her soul in her eyes as he'd seen the soul in the painting. The touch of his lips on her hand was unexpectedly warm and intimate even here in the midst of the crowded room, and an odd shiver ran up her spine. She resisted the desire to jerk her hand away and forced a cool note to her voice. "Were you late, my lord? I hadn't noticed."

"Then I shall save my apology for a more noticeable offense."He released her hand and straightened. A twinkle lurked in his eyes, but he did not smile.

She raised a brow. "And do you plan on more noticeable offenses?"

"I plan little beyond the moment, my lady." He nodded and turned to introduce himself to Mr. Addison and the others.

At once, the debate over the value of the work before them resumed, and she was left with an annoying sense of dismissal. Why, she had been right in the first place: the man was definitely rude. Although, she had to admit, his immediate immersion in the discussion saved her from conversing with him alone. And at the moment, she had no idea what to say and not the faintest notion where to begin.

The Husband List. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Julia Quinn
Warm, wise and witty! —Julia Quinn

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Husband List 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1818, widow Lady Gillian Marley needs to find a spouse within two months if she wants to inherit her late uncle¿s fortune. She draws up THE HUSBAND LIST, a compilation of nine potential spouses for her to consider as a mate in a marriage of convenience. Next to each of the candidate¿s name, Gillian describes their attributes, mostly negative. Because he is devastatingly handsome and responsible, Gillian selects the Earl of Shelbrooke, Richard Shelton as the prime slab of beef.

Once quite the rake, Richard tends his estates and cares for his family. He knows he needs money and successfully turns to painting under the no de plume of Etienne Toussaint. Richard wants to marry Gillian, but not for her money. He wants her love. Using his Toussaint identity, he begins to woo the woman he loves.

THE HUSBAND LIST is an amusing Regency romantic romp that will delight fans that enjoy a cheerful, carefree historical love story. The characters are fully developed and understandable, even why Richard goes to the great lengths to prove his love for Gillian and not just her money. Victoria Alexander provides sub-genre fans with merriment rarely found in historical romances.

Harriet Klausner

Kalira18 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book a great deal and would definitely recommend it.
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Beautnena815 More than 1 year ago
This book shows that love exists even when your are not looking for it! So, it will find you when you least expect it. This woman needs to re-marry in order to inherit some money. So she makes a potential "husband list" with her best friends. Little does she know that they were joking about it and gave her a list of men she should not marry. Well, she didnt know this and proposed to the first guy on the list. A man society is skeptical about. However, she just wants his name to inherit her money... no love involed. He too, wants the same thing to save his families name. Then somewhere along the way they both fall in love but they are too stubborn to admit it! It is a great historical love story!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have purchased a few novels by this author via B & N. Earlier works I really enjoyed by her were ¿The Wedding Bargain¿ (charming and fun) and ¿When We Meet Again¿ (strong characters and plot). ¿The Husband List¿ is the next one I choose. Although I liked this book, it wasn¿t as good for me as the first two I read. Gillian is the heroine in this book and Richard the hero. Gillian was married for years to her childhood sweetheart and then he died in battle for the King. She was alone for many years but, recovered and her life continued with social outings, get togethers and family. She needs to find a husband by her 30th birthday or she¿ll loose a large inheritance. She creates a list of the best husbands in town with the help of her two best guy friends and it¿s off to the races. She meets with Richard as he tops the list ¿ good looks, good manners, good family history and title etc. Little know to Gillian ¿ Richard is a reformed rogue and rake and trying to be good since his father died. He has become honorable by taking care of his sisters, their family estate and the good family name. Richard is poor in cash ¿ heavily in debt on the family estate - when they meet but, rich in spirit. The story takes a number of twists and turns ¿ who Richard really is, what he does for a living, how a famous painter Etienne and the arts plays into their relationship, why they both want the inheritance so bad and if the money can truly bring them together as a real husband and wife. I would have liked that they wait a little longer to be fully intimate and that there be more temptation and seduction before the big scene but, it was not to be. I also felt they spent a bit of time apart during their two month courtship and a bit of deception here and there but, I figure the author felt that added to the story. There was no formal engagement, wedding or follow up scene and I would have liked that to cement their relationship at the end as well. Many of the side characters were appealing to learn about ¿ Gillian¿s two male childhood friends Kit & Robin, Richards four sisters ¿ Marianne, Jocelyn, Becky & Emma, etc. This author is good at making the characters interesting and the story develop in a detailed and enriching way. Her books are not hot, passionate and intense rather¿they are light, warm, witty and usually fun to read. You can¿t help but, be drawn into the story after you see the descriptions on the husband list such as ¿Lord Tyndale ¿ remarkably well spoken for a man with few teeth¿ or ¿Lord Runley ¿ elegant in appearance but, with the intelligence of a small mutton chop¿ or ¿ Lord Harkin ¿ short bald and altogether unaware of his distinct resemblance to a hairless rabbit¿. See¿you will smile and enjoy this story and understand why she HAD to choose The Earl of Shelbrooke and why she didn¿t regret it. I look forward to reading her other stories¿history has proven she¿s a romance author worth reading. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lady Gillian Marley had been a widow for eight years. Now she stands to gain a huge inheritance, but only if she wed before her thirtieth birthday. That day was two months away. She decided to make a list of potential husbands. She did not want an intimate relationship. (She had loved her husband and wanted no other to take his place.) So she needed a husband who needed money as badly as she did. She chose Richard Shelton. His father left lots of debts when he died and Richard had four sisters to support and a near bankrupt estate in the country. But Richard wants heirs. They agree to get to know each other for two months to see if a marriage with a relationship was possible.

Unknown to any, but Gillian's brother, Richard was the new and talented French artist. He soon found himself trying to woo Gillian as Richard and as Etienne, the artist.

*** A delightful tale of a practical widow who learns that you can fall in love a second time. A bit slow at times and a bit predictable, but still wonderful! Well worth your time and money. Lovely! ***