It Happened One Night: A Letter to the Reader/The Fall of Rogue Gerrard/Spellbound/Only You

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Overview

It Happened One Night . . . and nothing was ever the same again!

Once upon a time, four superstar storytellers—New York Times bestselling authors Stephanie Laurens and Mary Balogh, along with Jacquie D'Alessandro and Candice Hern—came up with a delicious idea. What if they each wrote a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society's constraints? What would happen? And how long would it take for her to give in to ...

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It Happened One Night: A Letter to the Reader/The Fall of Rogue Gerrard/Spellbound/Only You

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Overview

It Happened One Night . . . and nothing was ever the same again!

Once upon a time, four superstar storytellers—New York Times bestselling authors Stephanie Laurens and Mary Balogh, along with Jacquie D'Alessandro and Candice Hern—came up with a delicious idea. What if they each wrote a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society's constraints? What would happen? And how long would it take for her to give in to desire?

In these four amazing tales, four heroines will come face-to-face with the men who got away . . . only to discover that, instead of anger, there is still a passionate connection that cannot be denied. And while each of their lives is quite different, and their pasts utterly unique, they will all make a common discovery—that one night can change everything . . . forever.

The Fall of Rogue Gerard, by Stephanie Laurens, is the 2009 RITA Winner for Best Romance Novella

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

With the simple stipulation that each story involve a hero and heroine who have been separated for more than a decade and then reconnect at the same roadside inn, this unique collection of sensual novellas, each set during a different season of the year, is the elegant result. A winter rainstorm strands a rake and the childhood friend he grew up protecting and lets their latent passions flare in Laurens's sultry "The Fall of Rogue Gerrard." A carriage accident and a May Day celebration untangle years of misunderstandings for a pair torn apart by family interference in Mary Balogh's poignant "Spellbound." A cruelly used widow defies society's conventions and finds happiness with her childhood love in Jacquie D'Alessandro's emotionally satisfying "Only You." A young couple brutally separated live vastly different lives only to learn some important truths and find love 25 years later in Candice Hern's refreshingly unconventional "From This Moment On." This cleverly conceived, beautifully executed collection highlights the critical importance of the individual writer's voice, tone, style, and creativity and goes a long way toward refuting the notion that romances are all alike.


—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061354168
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 369,329
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Laurens

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.

New York Times bestselling, multi-award-winning author Mary Balogh grew up in Wales, land of sea and mountains, song and legend. She brought music and a vivid imagination with her when she came to Canada to teach. There she began a second career as a writer of books that always end happily and always celebrate the power of love.

Growing up on Long Island, New York, Jacquie D'Alessandro fell in love with romance at an early age. She dreamed of being swept away by a dashing rogue riding a spirited stallion. When her hero finally showed up, he was dressed in jeans and drove a Volkswagen, but she recognized him anyway. They married after both graduating from Hofstra University and are now living their happily-ever-afters in Atlanta, Georgia. They have one grown son, who is a dashing rogue in the making. The author of more than thirty historical and contemporary romances, Jacquie loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website.

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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Read an Excerpt

It Happened One Night

Chapter One

It was a dark, stormy, and utterly miserable night. Rain fell from the sky in unrelenting sheets; whenever Robert "Rogue" Gerrard, fifth Viscount Gerrard, managed to squint through long lashes weighed down by icy droplets all he saw was more rain.

Hunched in his greatcoat on the box of his traveling carriage, he held the reins loosely in one long-fingered hand; he'd stripped off his sodden gloves miles ago. There was no risk of the horses bolting.

"Just a little further," he crooned, urging them on. He doubted they could hear over the drumming downpour, but the coaxing croon was ingrained habit. If one wanted females or animals to do what one wanted, one crooned; in Ro's experience, it usually worked.

The powerful pair, normally arrogantly high-stepping, were disdainfully lifting first one hoof, then the other, free of sucking mud. Their pace was down to a crawl.

Inwardly cursing, Ro peered through the water coursing down his face, trying through the darkness to make outsome...any...landmark. It was February. His mother always maintained one should never travel in February; as with many things, she was proving to be correct. But business had called, so Ro had dutifully left the luxurious warmth of the hearth at his principal estate, Gerrard Park, near Waltham on the Wolds, summoned his trusty coachman, Willis, and set out that afternoon for town.

He'd imagined putting up for the night along the way, possibly at the Kings Bells in St. Neots.

As usual, they'd joined the Great North Road near Colsterworth. It was only after they'd swept past Stamford that Willis, glancing idly back, had seen the massive storm clouds rushing down on them from the north. The turnoff to Peterborough had already been behind them; when applied to for orders, Ro had decreed they'd press on with all speed, hoping to reach Brampton. They'd just raced through the hamlet of Norman Cross when the heavens had opened with a ferocity that had instantly made traveling, even on England's most major highway, a nightmare.

They'd limped toward Sawtry, but with the smaller, slighter Willis all but drowned on the box, having increasing difficulty managing the reins, Ro had insisted on trading places. His drenched coachman was now a shivering lump inside the coach, while Ro, also drenched to the skin, but courtesy of his size and constitution better able to withstand the apocalyptic downpour, squinted through the torrent.

They'd reached Sawtry over an hour ago, only to find every possible habitation packed to the rafters with travelers seeking shelter. The Great North Road was the country's busiest highway; mail coaches, post coaches, and private coaches, let alone wagons and carts, had been stranded and deserted all around Sawtry.

No shelter of any sort was to be had, but the deluge had shown no signs of abating; if anything, as the hours dragged on, the downpour had only increased.

That was when Ro had remembered the small but tidy inn in Coppingford. The lane along which it lay met the highway about a mile south of Sawtry. With no real option, Ro had accepted the risk, not just of that extra mile on the highway, but of what he'd estimated as two miles of country lane.

Now, with the night an icy, wet, close to impenetrable shroud around him, with the horses slowing even more with every step, with the deluge rapidly converting the lane into a quagmire, he was seriously wondering if he'd judged aright. Yet quite aside from its seclusion tucked away through woods two miles from the highway, given the sudden onset of the storm and its dramatic impact, he doubted the Coppingford Arms would be full.

Gaining shelter for him, Willis, and his horses was currently his only objective, and both instinct and intellect told him shelter awaited at the Coppingford Arms.

He was debating whether to get down and lead the horses when he caught a glimmer through the dripping trees. Leaden branches drooped and bobbed in the downpour; he blinked, shook his head, sending droplets flying in a vain attempt to clear his eyes, and stared again. A small, weak lamp glowed through the curtain of rain.

It grew larger, its light stronger, as the horses inched along. Through the drowned night the outline of a low, solid,two- story building in gray stone took shape. As well as the single lamp by the main door, flickering light at one window bore testimony to a fire within. The sight made Ro realize just how chilled he was; he quelled a shiver.

A stone archway beside the inn gave access to the stable yard. He turned the flagging horses under it. "Willis! Wake up, man...we're here."

"I'm awake." Willis was out of the carriage before it had rocked to a halt. "Ostler! Get yourself out here! His lordship's horses need tending before they get washed away."

Swinging down from the box seat, Ro saw an ostler come rushing from the stable.

Wide-eyed, he grabbed hold of the leader's bridle. "We can walk them into the stable and unharness there. No need to get washed away ourselves."

Ro nodded to Willis when Willis looked back at him. "Go on. I'll get my bag and bespeak rooms...come in when you're done."

Willis saluted and rushed to help the ostler manage the heavy, drooping horses. Ro stepped to the back of the carriage, opened the boot, and hauled his portmanteau up and out just as the carriage started moving, then strode up the steps to the inn's side door.

He opened it and squelched inside. The sound made him wince; Hobywouldn't be impressed. "Innkeep!"

"Right here, sir."

Ro looked up. The innkeeper...the same mild-mannered man Ro remembered from years ago...was standing behind a short counter by the stairs, watching the puddle forming about Ro's large booted feet with resignation.

The man sighed, then ran his gaze up Ro's long frame, animation increasing as he took in the quality of the greatcoat hanging from Ro's shoulders and the elegant coat and waistcoat beneath, equally sodden. "A dreadful night, sir. You'll be wanting a nice dry room, I've no doubt."

It Happened One Night. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

It Happened One Night

Chapter One

It was a dark, stormy, and utterly miserable night. Rain fell from the sky in unrelenting sheets; whenever Robert "Rogue" Gerrard, fifth Viscount Gerrard, managed to squint through long lashes weighed down by icy droplets all he saw was more rain.

Hunched in his greatcoat on the box of his traveling carriage, he held the reins loosely in one long-fingered hand; he'd stripped off his sodden gloves miles ago. There was no risk of the horses bolting.

"Just a little further," he crooned, urging them on. He doubted they could hear over the drumming downpour, but the coaxing croon was ingrained habit. If one wanted females or animals to do what one wanted, one crooned; in Ro's experience, it usually worked.

The powerful pair, normally arrogantly high-stepping, were disdainfully lifting first one hoof, then the other, free of sucking mud. Their pace was down to a crawl.

Inwardly cursing, Ro peered through the water coursing down his face, trying through the darkness to make outsome—any—landmark. It was February. His mother always maintained one should never travel in February; as with many things, she was proving to be correct. But business had called, so Ro had dutifully left the luxurious warmth of the hearth at his principal estate, Gerrard Park, near Waltham on the Wolds, summoned his trusty coachman, Willis, and set out that afternoon for town.

He'd imagined putting up for the night along the way, possibly at the Kings Bells in St. Neots.

As usual, they'd joined the Great North Road near Colsterworth. It was only after they'd swept past Stamford that Willis,glancing idly back, had seen the massive storm clouds rushing down on them from the north. The turnoff to Peterborough had already been behind them; when applied to for orders, Ro had decreed they'd press on with all speed, hoping to reach Brampton. They'd just raced through the hamlet of Norman Cross when the heavens had opened with a ferocity that had instantly made traveling, even on England's most major highway, a nightmare.

They'd limped toward Sawtry, but with the smaller, slighter Willis all but drowned on the box, having increasing difficulty managing the reins, Ro had insisted on trading places. His drenched coachman was now a shivering lump inside the coach, while Ro, also drenched to the skin, but courtesy of his size and constitution better able to withstand the apocalyptic downpour, squinted through the torrent.

They'd reached Sawtry over an hour ago, only to find every possible habitation packed to the rafters with travelers seeking shelter. The Great North Road was the country's busiest highway; mail coaches, post coaches, and private coaches, let alone wagons and carts, had been stranded and deserted all around Sawtry.

No shelter of any sort was to be had, but the deluge had shown no signs of abating; if anything, as the hours dragged on, the downpour had only increased.

That was when Ro had remembered the small but tidy inn in Coppingford. The lane along which it lay met the highway about a mile south of Sawtry. With no real option, Ro had accepted the risk, not just of that extra mile on the highway, but of what he'd estimated as two miles of country lane.

Now, with the night an icy, wet, close to impenetrable shroud around him, with the horses slowing even more with every step, with the deluge rapidly converting the lane into a quagmire, he was seriously wondering if he'd judged aright. Yet quite aside from its seclusion tucked away through woods two miles from the highway, given the sudden onset of the storm and its dramatic impact, he doubted the Coppingford Arms would be full.

Gaining shelter for him, Willis, and his horses was currently his only objective, and both instinct and intellect told him shelter awaited at the Coppingford Arms.

He was debating whether to get down and lead the horses when he caught a glimmer through the dripping trees. Leaden branches drooped and bobbed in the downpour; he blinked, shook his head, sending droplets flying in a vain attempt to clear his eyes, and stared again. A small, weak lamp glowed through the curtain of rain.

It grew larger, its light stronger, as the horses inched along. Through the drowned night the outline of a low, solid,two- story building in gray stone took shape. As well as the single lamp by the main door, flickering light at one window bore testimony to a fire within. The sight made Ro realize just how chilled he was; he quelled a shiver.

A stone archway beside the inn gave access to the stable yard. He turned the flagging horses under it. "Willis! Wake up, man—we're here."

"I'm awake." Willis was out of the carriage before it had rocked to a halt. "Ostler! Get yourself out here! His lordship's horses need tending before they get washed away."

Swinging down from the box seat, Ro saw an ostler come rushing from the stable.

Wide-eyed, he grabbed hold of the leader's bridle. "We can walk them into the stable and unharness there. No need to get washed away ourselves."

Ro nodded to Willis when Willis looked back at him. "Go on. I'll get my bag and bespeak rooms—come in when you're done."

Willis saluted and rushed to help the ostler manage the heavy, drooping horses. Ro stepped to the back of the carriage, opened the boot, and hauled his portmanteau up and out just as the carriage started moving, then strode up the steps to the inn's side door.

He opened it and squelched inside. The sound made him wince; Hobywouldn't be impressed. "Innkeep!"

"Right here, sir."

Ro looked up. The innkeeper—the same mild-mannered man Ro remembered from years ago—was standing behind a short counter by the stairs, watching the puddle forming about Ro's large booted feet with resignation.

The man sighed, then ran his gaze up Ro's long frame, animation increasing as he took in the quality of the greatcoat hanging from Ro's shoulders and the elegant coat and waistcoat beneath, equally sodden. "A dreadful night, sir. You'll be wanting a nice dry room, I've no doubt."

It Happened One Night. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2008

    Four stories in one.

    The Fall of Rogue Gerrard by Stephanie Laurens<BR/><BR/>Lydia Makepeace needs to infiltrate the home of Lord Alconbury in order to retrieve a letter her sister had written. Problem is that Lord Alconbury has several guests and nightly orgies that do not end until past dawn. After scoping out Alconbury's home one evening, Lydia returns to the inn and is shocked to see Lord Gerrard "Ro". Perhaps Lydia can get a bit of help. **** A bit of adventure with this romance - and who would not enjoy that? **** <BR/><BR/>Spellbound by Mary Balogh<BR/><BR/>Long ago Nora Ryder had been the daughter of a gentleman of vast wealth and political influence. Richard had been her father's secretary. Now their situation has reversed. Richard Kemp is a baron and Nora is penniless. Having recently left a position, unpaid, she has no choice but to return to her brother's home until she can find new employment. Unfortunately, the stagecoach she was to travel on has collided with a gentleman's vehicle. Richard's. Will her heart survive seeing him again? **** To tell more of the couple's background would spoil the fun. Rest assured that the story is well done with an interesting twist or two. **** <BR/><BR/>Only You by Jacquie D'Alessandro<BR/><BR/>Ten years ago Cassie became Countess Westmore. In doing so she left her only friend, Ethan, behind and entered purgatory. Now a widow, Cassie returns to Cornwall. Ethan now owns and operates the Blue Seas Inn in St. Ives. Before returning to her parents, Cassie decides to spend one evening at the inn. Perhaps he will be there. **** Pure romance that left me with a warm glow. The story is spiced in a way that only Jacquie D'Alessandro can do. **** <BR/><BR/>From This Moment On by Candice Hern<BR/><BR/>She had been plain Wilma Jepp at one time. He had been plain Samuel Pellow. She thought he was dead. Instead Sam had gone into the navy - unwillingly. When her mother tossed her out, Wilma did the only thing she could do to survive. She became a mistress. Today she is the Duchess of Herford, widowed for over three years. Samuel is a retired blockade captain. Fate brings them together at an inn one stormy day and Destiny will do her best to keep them that way. **** This romance moves at a slower pace than the previous ones. It is mostly two people reminiscing about the hard choices each made in their past. The author has added some humor to keep things light and she has done it in a very sneaky way. **** <BR/><BR/>Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    GOOD BUT.....

    The idea for this book was great- four different stories and four different authors but the same plot for them all. The stories were good, very touching, but there was a lot of sex.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    enjoyable anthology

    'The Fall of Rogue Gerrard' by Stephanie Laurens. Robert and Lydia search for some missing papers he may be the rake, but she has the seduction planned.---------------- 'Spellbound¿ by Mary Balogh. A decade ago Nora and Richard eloped, but her family annulled the marriage. Richard rescues Nora from a coaching accident both want to elope again as they remain in love.------------ 'Only You' by Jacquie D'Alessandro. Widow Cassandra Heywood has always loved the innkeeper Ethan though their social classes keep them apart until now she is determined to marry her beloved------------ 'From This Moment On' by Candice Hern. While at war, Sam hid his love for Wilhelmina. Now home, the former captain plans to make the duchess his wife.--------------- The plot premise of this enjoyable anthology as described by Ms. Balogh in A Letter to the Reader is: ¿A man and a woman, who have not seen each other in ten years, meet again when they find themselves staying at the same inn for a twenty-four hour period.¿ That concept provides the underlying fascination to this compilation as historical romance fans will compare each work (and rank them). These are four gutsy authors to do this somewhat limiting method. However, each provides a strong novella starring interesting lead couples and more important different well written slants on the basic theme.--------------- Harriet Klausner

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