The Ideal Bride (Cynster Series)

( 49 )

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens has created some of romance's most unforgettable novels. Now she has created her most provocative love story—and amazing hero—to date. This is the book that dares to ask the question: Who is this man's ideal bride?

Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is a rising member of Parliament—a man destined for power. Aristocratic, elegant, and effortlessly charming, he is just arrogant enough to capture the interest of the ladies of the ton. ...

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The Ideal Bride (Cynster Series)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens has created some of romance's most unforgettable novels. Now she has created her most provocative love story—and amazing hero—to date. This is the book that dares to ask the question: Who is this man's ideal bride?

Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is a rising member of Parliament—a man destined for power. Aristocratic, elegant, and effortlessly charming, he is just arrogant enough to capture the interest of the ladies of the ton. And with his connections to the wealthy and influential Cynster family—his sister is married to Devil Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives—his future appears assured.

Except that Michael lacks the single most important element of success: a wife.

Political pressure sends him searching for his ideal bride, a gently bred, malleable young lady, preferably one with a political background. Michael discovers such a paragon but finds a formidable obstacle in his path—the young lady's beautiful, strong-minded aunt—Caroline Sutcliffe.

One of London's foremost diplomatic hostesses, Caro has style and status but, having lived through an unhappy political marriage, wants nothing of the sort for her niece, who has already lost her heart to another.

So Caro and the younger woman hatch a plot—Caro will demonstrate why an inexperienced young lady is not the bride for Michael. She succeeds in convincing him that what he really needs is a lady of experience by his side.

And the perfect candidate is right under his nose—Caro herself. Then it is Michael's turn to be persuasive, a task that requires every ounce of his seductive charm as he tempts and tantalizes Caro, seeking to convince her that becoming his bride will bring her all her heart desires . . . and more.

But then a series of mysterious, and dangerous, accidents befall Caro—an assailant has stepped in with their own idea for Caro's future—one that could involve murder. Before Caro can become Michael's ideal bride, they must race to uncover the unknown's identity before all hope of what they long for, and wish for, is destroyed.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In this sensational Cynster romance from New York Times–bestselling author Stephanie Laurens, Michael Anstruther-Wetherby -- M.P. and brother-in-law to Devil Cynster -- has embarked on the most dangerous task of his political career: finding a suitable wife. He is dissuaded from his first proper candidate by her spirited aunt, Caro, a young widow of a loveless political marriage. But the lovely Caro herself seems to have all the proper qualifications except timidity, and the two embark on an escalating affair against the backdrop of society events. Their mutual passion would make marriage a logical step, if only Michael could resolve two serious obstacles: ending the mysterious threats on Caro's life and overcoming her resolve to never marry again. How Michael uncovers the key to Caro's heart is a feat worthy of any Cynster, and Cynster fans will be delighted to see again the characters first introduced in Devil's Bride. Ginger Curwen
Publishers Weekly
Laurens's newest romantic offering, set in early 19th-century London, possesses two of her trademarks-coolly confident characters and plentiful and graphic sex scenes-but it lacks the fire and feisty humor of her earlier works (All About Passion, etc.). Once readers encounter Laurens's protagonists, it's clear why. A self-possessed young widow, Caro Sutcliffe, whose late husband was an ambassador, and a calculating political player, Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, are adept at diplomacy; they know who to align themselves with, how to manage the people around them and what to say in every situation. Unlike the protagonists in Laurens's previous novels, Caro and Michael hardly ever lose control of their emotions, which makes them seem more like marionettes than people. When Michael sets his sights on marrying Caro's 19-year-old niece, Elizabeth, who's actually in love with somebody else, Caro intervenes not by confronting him but by attending a number of social gatherings and instructing Elizabeth to behave in ways unbefitting a politician's wife. Caro's plan works, but she soon finds that she's become the object of Michael's pursuit. Laurens stuffs the story with sex scenes, but her second-by-second analyses of every kiss and caress brings new meaning to the word tedious. Her overblown metaphors also detract from the sensuality of these scenes ("she was dimly aware when he reached his own limit and release caught him, racked him, then the storm rolled on and he lay beside her on that golden shore"). A well-executed mystery subplot involving attempts on Caro's life lends some zest to this offering, but not enough to satisfy fans of Laurens's popular Cynster novels. (Mar.) Forecast: Laurens's hardcovers haven't been received as well as her paperbacks, but this should still sell like gangbusters. 200,000 first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is the new MP in the district. As his career takes off, with a cabinet post a distinct possibility, it behooves him to marry. Elizabeth Mollison, the 19-year-old daughter of his predecessor, seems a solid choice. But when Michael arrives at Bramshaw House to further his suit, suddenly Miss Elizabeth seems less a promising candidate than her aunt, Mrs. Caroline Sutcliffe, widow of veteran diplomat Camden Sutcliffe and an accomplished political hand. Can Michael convince his old friend Caro that their match would be the perfect blending of skills? What secrets make this "Merry Widow" adamant about never remarrying? And who is trying to do her harm? This story continues Laurens's Cynster novels (e.g., The Perfect Lover), though Michael is merely a Cynster-in-law, with peerage taking a backseat to politics in this tale of passion, intrigue, and international machinations. Though the eventual unmasking of the villain seems a bit contrived, the usual Laurens romantic touches and interesting characters are here. Not as dead-on delicious as some of the previous Cynster outings, this will still be welcomed by fans of the author and the series. Recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/03.]-Bette-Lee Fox, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060505745
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Cynster Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 157,681
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science, a hobby that quickly became a career. Her novels set in Regency England have captivated readers around the globe, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors. Loving Rose is her fifty-fourth book. All of her previous works remain in print and readily available.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The Ideal Bride

Chapter One

Late June, 1825
Eyeworth Manor, near Fritham in the New Forest, Hampshire

Wife, wife, wife, wife.

Michael Anstruther-Wetherby swore beneath his breath. That refrain had plagued him for the last twenty-four hours. When he'd driven away from Amelia Cynster's wedding breakfast, it had run to the rhythm of his curricle's wheels; now it was playing to the steady clop of his bay gelding's hooves.

Lips setting, he wheeled Atlas out of the stableyard and set out along the drive circling his home.

If he hadn't gone to Cambridgeshire to attend Amelia's wedding, he'd already be one step closer to being an affianced man. But the wedding had been one event he hadn't even thought of missing; aside from the fact that his sister Honoria, Duchess of St. Ives, had been the hostess, the wedding had been a family gathering and he valued family ties.

Familial links had helped him immeasurably in recent years, first in gaining his position as Member of Parliament for this district, and subsequently in forging his path upward through the ranks, yet that wasn't the wellspring of his appreciation; family had always meant a great deal to him.

Rounding his house, a sturdy, three-storied manor house built of gray stone, his gaze went -- as it always did when he passed this way -- to the monument that stood on the verge halfway between the house and the gates. Set against the dark-leaved shrubs filling the gaps beneath the tall trees, the simple stone had stood for fourteen years; it marked the spot where his family -- his parents and younger brother and sister racing home in a curricle in the teeth of a storm -- had been killed by a falling tree. He and Honoria had witnessed the accident from the schoolroom windows high above.

Perhaps it was simply human nature to value highly something one had lost.

Left shocked, grieving, and adrift, he and Honoria had still had each other, but with him barely nineteen and her sixteen, they'd had to part. They'd never lost touch -- they were, even now, close -- but Honoria had since met Devil Cynster; she now had a family of her own.

Slowing Atlas as he approached the stone, Michael was acutely aware that he did not. His life was full to bursting, his schedule perennially crammed; it was only in moments like this that the lack shone so clearly, and loneliness jabbed.

He paused, studying the stone, then, jaw setting, faced forward and flicked the reins. Atlas picked up his pace; passing through the gates, Michael held him to a steady canter along the narrow lane.

The nightmarish sound of horses screaming slowly faded. Today he was determined to take the first step toward establishing a family of his own.

Wife, wife, wife, wife.

The countryside closed around him, embraced him in its lush green arms, welcomed him into the woods and forests that to him were the essence of home. Sunlight flickered, glimmered through shifting leaves. Birds called and twittered; beyond the rustle of the canopies, there was no other sound to punctuate the clop of Atlas's hooves. Narrow and winding, the lane led nowhere but to the Manor, joining a wider road that led south to Lyndhurst. Not far from that junction, another lane wended east to the village of Bramshaw, and Bramshaw House, his destination.

He'd decided on his course some months ago, but once again government concerns had demanded his attention and he'd let matters slide ... when he'd realized, he'd pulled himself up short, sat down, and laid out a schedule. Despite the distraction of Amelia's wedding, he'd stuck rigidly to his self-imposed timetable and left the wedding breakfast in good time to drive down here. To his necessary destiny.

Leaving Somersham in midafternoon, he'd stopped with a friend at Basingstoke overnight. He hadn't mentioned his reason for heading home, yet it had weighed -- preyed -- on his mind. He'd set out early and arrived home midmorning; it was now two o'clock, and he was determined to delay no longer. The die would be cast, the matter, if not finished with, then at least begun -- halfway arranged.

A constituency matter?

You might say that.

Amelia's question, his answer, perfectly true in its way. To a sitting Member, one who'd reached the age of thirty-three unwed and been informed he was being considered for advancement into the ministry, marriage was definitely a "constituency matter."

He accepted he had to marry -- indeed, he'd always assumed he would someday. How else was he to establish the family he craved? Yet the years had rolled by and he'd become caught up in his developing career through that and his close links with the Cynsters and the haut ton, increasingly cognizant of the breadth of experience the state of marriage encompassed, he'd become less and less inclined to pursue it.

Now, however, his time had come. When Parliament had risen for the summer, he'd been left in no doubt that the Prime Minister expected him to return in autumn with a wife on his arm, thereby enabling him to be considered in the cabinet reshuffle widely tipped to occur at that time. Since April, he'd been actively seeking his ideal bride. The peace of the countryside wrapped him about; the wife, wife, wife refrain remained, but its tone grew less compulsive the closer he got to his goal.

It had been easy to define the qualities and attributes he required in his bride -- passable beauty, loyalty, supportive abilities such as hostessly talents, and some degree of intelligence lightened with a touch of humor. Finding such a paragon proved another matter; after spending hours in the ballrooms, he'd concluded he'd be wiser to seek a bride with some understanding of a politician's life -- even better, a successful politician's life ...

The Ideal Bride. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

A Message from Stephanie Laurens

Dear Readers,
The latest novel in the Cynster Canon, The Ideal Bride, adds to the already established "Cynster world" by extending the novels in a direction that allows readers to further explore that world they've come to so enjoy in the Cynster novels to date.

The brothers of the ladies who've become Cynster wives naturally share many male Cynster characteristics. They're very like their brothers-in-law in such matters as charm, elegance, and arrogance -- they are equally born to rule. Such gentlemen are perfect candidates as heroes in stories that allow us to take one step back, so that while indulging in a full-blown Cynster-like romance, we can also view the already established Cynster marriages, family, and world from a different perspective...and so see more.

The Ideal Bride tells the tale of Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, older brother of Honoria, now Devil Cynster's wife. Michael is a rising politician whose need of a bride is acute. In viewing his endeavors, we see the Cynster characteristics adapted to the political sphere -- the charm, the ruthlessness, the arrogance, but also the honor and protectiveness that is a fundamental part of the Cynster code.

For Michael, convincing his chosen bride to marry him is no easy task, especially with someone trying to kill her. In typical Cynster family fashion, he enlists the aid of Devil, Gabriel, and Lucifer in dealing with the would-be murderer, while Honoria, Devil and -- unknown to Michael -- their children assist him in securing his ideal bride.

The story plays out against the familiar backdrop of the Cynster world -- the London ballrooms and drawing rooms, the familiar haunts of society's elite. Readers will meet old friends, such as Lady Osbaldestone, whose life is revealed as, in many ways, a prototype for the heroine's, as well as the younger Cynsters, such as Devil and Honoria's daughter, Louisa.

I hope you enjoy learning more of the Cynsters -- happy reading!

Stephanie Laurens
March 2004

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2004

    READ WITH VERVE AND ELOQUENCE

    Tony and Olivier Award winner Clare Higgins brings verve and eloquence to her performance of the latest from Australian romance novelist, Stephanie Laurens. Those familiar with the author's Cynster novels will find 'The Ideal Bride' an entertaining listen as Laurens mixes mystery with love. Our hero is Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, a headed-for-great-things politico, who is used to getting what he wants when he wants it. In this case, realizing that a perfect wife will be an invaluable asset to his career, that is what he wants. Elizabeth, a lovely 19-year-old is the bride he wants. However, there are two obstacles in his pursuit - Elizabeth is in love with someone else, and her very attractive widowed aunt, Caro Sutcliffe, is definitely opposed to such a union. Caro's late husband was a politician so she well knows the rigors of being a politician's better half and she wants none of that for her beloved niece. The two women devise a plan to convince Michael that Elizabeth is not a suitable mate - the young woman will behave inappropriately at public functions. Sounds like a good idea. However, their stratagem backfires - quite romantically. Mix in some murder, an unknown enemy, and you have a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2004

    Series Slump

    Although I am a huge Laurens fan, I found 'The Ideal Bride' a bore. The mix of an alpha male seducing his woman of choice to the alter with a very trite mystery to solve on the way is getting old. Where is the character development? All the Cynster males are becoming interchangeable, the females are all one themed characters and the sex scenes are repititious. I know Stephanie Laurens can do better than this!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2013

    Laurens Hits Abother Home Run

    This is a classic Cynster novel, with the latest adventure involving the search for the ideal bride, and of course, finding her, and with her comes trouble. Our protagonist, Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, needs to find a wife in hopes of furthering his political career. While searching for the "ideal" woman to marry him and be his perfect diplomatic mate, he finds his initial concept of what traits create a perfect diplomatic hostess and bride may be off base. As usual, Ms. Lauren takes us though the twists and turns of her plot with a mixture of laughter, romantic encounters, and intrigue. I have read all of the Cynster series in order, and this one was just as engrossing as the previous novels. I recommend it for a nice read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2005

    Delicious Sex Scenes

    This book is the best that Stephanie Laurens has written since her previous Cynster novels. Interplay is my favorite theme and she has returned to it from the Bastion Club series. (In the early 1800s a woman (Penelope) clings to her lover and follows him everywhere by dressing in men's attire?)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2005

    GOOD READ

    WHILE THE IDEAL BRIDE IS NOT A PERFECT CYNSTER NOVEL IT IS A DEFINITE 'NEED TO READ.' ON A SENSUAL SCALE OF 1-10 IT'S A STEAMY 8. CARO IS AN OLDER WIDOW (IF YOU CAN PERCEIVE MID 20'S AS 'OLDER)'. SHE HAS A SECRET WHICH IS REVEALED TO MICHAEL AT AN INOPPERTUNE TIME-THIS SECRET ADDS TO THE MORE THAN A FEW MYSTERIES IN THIS LATEST LAURENS' BOOK.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2014

    Great book and wonderful series!!  Recommend Very Highly!!

    Great book and wonderful series!!  Recommend Very Highly!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    Sex scenes are overdone and too many

    How many sex scenes do you need in one book? Disappointing story

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  • Posted March 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Another Fabulous Read from Miss Laurens

    Gotta love Them Undeniable Rogues!!!! Its awesome watching an alpha male fall to his knees for the love of his true heart !!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Hmmm.

    The passion was good . the endless talk of politics tended to make the book at times boring. Decent read though .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Highly recommend it

    This is a great book it has awesome romance, very hot and steamy so not great for younger readers. Keeps you guessing with the mystery plot as well.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    Good characters, longer descriptions than I prefer

    Overall a good book. Liked the characters but sometimes the descriptions of their thoughts were a little long winded. But still good overall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Dumb

    Pompous windbags.......I couldnt finish this book

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    Posted October 13, 2011

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    Posted March 9, 2013

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    Posted March 26, 2013

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