Kiss the Bride

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Overview

One lucky man would win her hand...

A lady of London breeding, Emma Van Court never expected to be left widowed — and penniless — in the Scottish village of Faires. But when a fortune is promised if she remarries, the pretty schoolteacher finds Faires' motley assortment of eligible men scrambling for her attentions — from the local cowherd to an obnoxious baron!

One sweet kiss would seal their love...

James Marbury, Earl of Denham, was urbane,...

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Overview

One lucky man would win her hand...

A lady of London breeding, Emma Van Court never expected to be left widowed — and penniless — in the Scottish village of Faires. But when a fortune is promised if she remarries, the pretty schoolteacher finds Faires' motley assortment of eligible men scrambling for her attentions — from the local cowherd to an obnoxious baron!

One sweet kiss would seal their love...

James Marbury, Earl of Denham, was urbane, sophisticated....and utterly at odds among the muddy roads and thatched roofs of Faires. He had come after hearing of his cousin Stuart's passing — and was exasperated to find his maddening, tempestuous love for the widowed Emma was as strong as ever. With bachelors coming out of the woodwork to woo her, James sees only one solution: offer himself to her as a temporary husband...even if secretly he longs to make his "I do's" last a lifetime.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With this multifaceted, late-Victorian-era romance between a handsome, haughty, stupendously wealthy earl and a beautiful commoner who possesses a social conscience, Cabot (aka Meg Cabot), author of Educating Caroline and The Princess Diaries, once again turns romantic stereotype on its ear. When Emma Van Court tells James, the earl of Denham, that she intends to marry his impoverished cousin Stuart and accompany him to the wild Scottish Hebrides to minister to poor fisher-folk, he becomes apoplectic and tries to thwart their plans. Marriage to Stuart isn't what James had planned for Emma, whom he'd long desired. Too late, Emma realizes that life with Stuart on the backwater island of Faires isn't what she had envisaged either. When James arrives after receiving news of Stuart's death in a typhus epidemic, he finds every able-bodied villager, and even the eccentric and determined local lord, in pursuit of Emma, who's been left a fortune by a fellow parishioner. There's a catch, however: Emma must remarry before she can claim the money. James's transformation from a selfish, self-involved aristocrat to the soul mate Emma has always desired is believably and charmingly limned. Less convincing is Emma's sudden realization that she loves James. Still, this witty, well-crafted romance is written with panache and peopled by unique secondary characters including those of the animal variety. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743410281
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 4.28 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Cabot
Keeping up with Meg Cabot is tricky: the Princess Diaries author turns out light entertaining novels for teens and adults at a furious pace. Which is good news for her fans, who snap them up as fast as she can write them!

Biography

Meg Cabot knows that one of the best cures for feeling gawky and conspicuous is reading about someone who sticks out even more than you do. Her books for young adults invariably feature girls who have extraordinary powers that carry extraordinary burdens. Cabot's Princess Diaries series offers up the secret thoughts of Mia Thermopolis, who discovers at age 14 that she is actually the princess of a small European country. This revelation adds significantly to her extant concerns about crushes, friendships, school, and other matters falling under adolescent scrutiny.

Cabot, a native of Indiana weaned on Judy Blume and Barbara Cartland, was already a successful romance novelist (as Patricia Cabot) before she began writing for young adults; her alter-alter ego, Jenny Carroll, began a new series shortly after The Princess Diaries debuted. The Carroll books are divided between the Mediator series, starring a girl who can communicate with restless ghosts; and the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU books, in which a girl struck by lightning acquires the ability to locate missing people.

Cabot writes her books in a conspiratorial, first-person style that resonates with her readers. She has obviously kept a grip on the vernacular and the key issues of adolescence; but what makes her books so irresistible is the mixing of the mundane with the fantastic. After all, who wouldn't like to wake up and be a princess all of a sudden, or a seer? Cabot takes such offhand notions and roots them firmly in the details of average, middle-class American life. She has also tiptoed into mystery and paranormal suspense with other YA novels and series installments.

Cabot continues to write adult novels under various permutations of her given name (Meggin Patricia Cabot): from 19th-century historical romances to contemporary chick lit. And, as with her books for teens, these romances have earned praise for their lighthearted humor and well drawn characters.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Cabot:

"I am left handed."

"I hate tomatoes of any kind."

"I really wanted to be veterinarian, but I got a 410 on my math SATs."

"Writing used to be my hobby, but now that it's my job, I have no hobby -- except watching TV and laying around the pool reading US Weekly. I have tried many hobbies, such as knitting, Pilates, ballet, yoga, and guitar, but none of them have taken. So I guess I'm stuck with no hobby.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Meggin Patricia Cabot (full name); Patricia Cabot, Jenny Caroll
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in fine arts, Indiana University, 1991
    2. Website:

First Chapter

Chapter One

Mainland, Shetland Isles
May 1833

Emma Van Court Chesterton was having a bad day.

Not, of course, that today was particularly worse than any other. She'd been having bad days for nearly a year now. Oh, there'd been a few fair-to-middling days thrown in during that twelve-month period, but for the most part, they'd been bad.

She wasn't exactly sure what she'd done to bring on this spell of foul luck. She had picked up every single halfpenny she'd found and avoided walking under ladders.

Not that she believed in luck, of course. It was very old-fashioned and superstitious to do so.

But to be on the safe side, she'd visited the Wishing Tree again just last week and nailed Stuart's bedroom slippers to the trunk. She didn't have any of her own shoes to spare, and Stuart wouldn't be needing his any more, of course.

But when she woke up the next morning, she realized the shoes hadn't done the least bit of good. Her bad luck continued unabated.

The rooster had run away again.

Bad luck. That was the only explanation for it. A glance at her bedroom window revealed that the day was well advanced. The leaden sky was just light enough to indicate that dawn had come at least an hour earlier, but no rooster's crow had wakened her.

So she was late. Again.

The thought of throwing back the bedclothes to face the day was a daunting one. Emma lay still for a full minute after waking, debating whether even to bother setting foot out of bed. It was only the impatient whimpering of her bed partner — a laughing-faced dog of indeterminable breed but inestimable charm, whom Emma had rescued the week before from the docks — that finally propelled her out of bed.

Better to face a day lacking in promise, she decided, than to allow her new guest to have an accident indoors.

Hastily, Emma stuffed her feet into slippers and her arms into a dressing gown, while the dog — a female who, to Emma's admittedly inexperienced eye, appeared to be due to give birth at any moment — waddled in happy circles around her ankles, occasionally colliding with her new mistress's shins in her excitement over being let outdoors.

But when Emma opened the cottage door to let the dog out, she saw that things were worse — far worse — than she had imagined. Not only had her rooster run away, but rain — heavy, impenetrable spring rain — poured down in a thick curtain before her, turning the yard around her cottage to soggy bogs of mud. A squall had blown in from the sea during the night and was now pounding the tiny Hebridean island with its full force.

After having suffered through a half dozen blizzards since October, the sight of a good solid rainfall was not exactly unwelcome. Emma's enthusiasm for this spring shower was somewhat dampened, however, by the thought that she was going to have to wade out into that storm in order to get to the village, where a dozen children would be waiting in the schoolroom for her to conduct the day's lessons.

Emma wasn't the only one who looked upon the heavy rain with dismay. Her small guest placed a paw hesitantly in the mud, then turned to look back up at Emma, as if to say, "Must I? Must I, really?"

But it was only when that trusting, slightly perplexed expression turned suspicious and a low growl sounded in the dog's throat that Emma sensed there was something wrong with the animal other than a simple distaste for rain. Following the direction of the dog's gaze, Emma caught sight of the shadowy, hulking figure standing perfectly still just beneath the overhang of the cottage's thatch roof.

"Good Lord," Emma murmured, placing a hand to her chest. Beneath her fingers, her heart had begun to drum much too loudly. Really, she thought to herself, this is simply too much. To be accosted in front of her own cottage, while she was still in her dressing gown, for goodness sake....And it wasn't the first time it had happened, either. This will not do. It simply will not do, she thought.

Opening her eyes, which she'd closed to utter a quick and silent prayer of thanks that at least she knew this particular interloper, Emma regarded the still figure.

"Really, Mr. MacEwan," she said in her sleep-roughened voice. "What are you doing, standing out here in the rain like this? You frightened me nearly to death, you know."

The giant — for that's what he was, really, a six-foot-seven giant of a man, who lived with his aging mother on the farm neighboring Emma's — inclined his head, causing rainwater that had collected along the brim of his hat to flow down in a stream to the toes of his thick boots.

"'Mornin', Miz Chesterton," he said, shamefacedly. "I didna mean to afright ye. I...I brung back yer rooster."

For the first time, Emma noticed that there was a skinny, somewhat bedraggled bird tucked under Cletus MacEwan's arm.

"Oh, dear," she said. "Was he at your hens again, Mr. MacEwan? I'm so sorry — "

"I reckon he forgot that he don't live there no more." Cletus set the rooster on the ground. "But I don't s'pose he'll run off again. Our Charlie gave 'im quite a fight. I'm surprised ye didn't 'ear the two of 'em squawkin' all the way up 'ere."

Emma glared at the rooster, who hurried into the meager shelter provided by the overhang of the cottage's roof, then scratched aloofly at the hard ground, pretending he didn't know they were talking about him.

"I didn't hear them, no," Emma replied, "which is why I'm running so late this morning. I can't thank you enough, Mr. MacEwan, for bringing him back."

Cletus nodded. "Well, I reckon he'll stay put this time, after the peckin' Charlie gave 'im." Then, shyly, he held out his other hand, from which a basket, its contents covered with a blue-and-white cloth, dangled. "Almost forgot," he said. "Me mam just made 'em. Scones. Fresh out o' the bakin' oven, are they."

Emma took the basket from his raw and work-reddened hands — he'd left his gloves behind again, she saw. The first warm day of the season, and Cletus MacEwan had abandoned his gloves, not remembering, as Emma did, that the weather in the Shetlands did not always abide by the calendar. It could be warm as summer in the middle of winter, and cold as February, as it was today, in the middle of May.

"Oh, Mr. MacEwan," she said, raising her voice so that he could hear her over the steady pounding of the rain. "Thank you so very much. But really, I wish you hadn't...."

Emma wasn't just being polite. She really did wish he hadn't. Though she infinitely preferred Mrs. MacEwan's scones over last week's offering — a butchered hog — this was still far too much. Cletus MacEwan was Emma's most dedicated — and physically prepossessing — suitor, but he was also the most lacking in common sense.

"You're going to fall behind on your work, bringing me breakfast like this every morning," she scolded him gently.

Cletus only smiled at her, the trusting, friendly smile of a very young child. And indeed, he was young, at eighteen a year Emma's junior.

"Me mam says we've got to see you eat right," Cletus replied. "She says you've gotten too thin, and that you're goin' to waste away up 'ere — "

"Yes, well," Emma interrupted. She had heard Mrs. MacEwan's dire predictions before. There wasn't anything the least bit wrong with Emma's health, but Cletus's mother quite liked bragging to her friends in town about her efforts at fattening up "Poor Widow Chesterton." There wasn't any doubt that neighborly kindness was not the only reason behind Mrs. MacEwan's concern. She had an ulterior motive, and that motive was standing in front of Emma right then, shivering like a lamb before the slaughter beneath his wet clothes.

Under ordinary circumstances, Emma exercised no tolerance whatsoever for her many suitors. On this day, however, she decided to make an exception. Maybe it was the sight of Cletus MacEwan's chapped hands. Or maybe it was the heavenly smell of his mother's scones. In any case, Emma made up her mind to admit him, and so said kindly, "Do come in, won't you, Mr. MacEwan?" She moved aside to give him room to enter the cottage.

Cletus MacEwan needed no further urging. In a flash, he was ducking beneath the low-hanging door frame and filling her sitting room with his bulk.

"Much obliged to ye, mum," he said, nodding his head and this time managing to spill a good deal of water onto her clean wooden floor. "Mebbe I'll just stay fer a cuppa, if ye can spare it."

Emma smiled as she watched her neighbor move toward the hearth. Cletus MacEwan, though not terribly bright, was quite useful to have about, she'd found, especially when it came time to slaughter a chicken for her evening's supper, a task for which Emma had neither talent nor inclination.

But this skill did not engender an inclination to marry him. Emma lacked an inclination toward marriage to anyone at all.

And that was the root of nearly all her most recent trouble, the rooster not withstanding.

The ginger-colored mutt — whom Emma had decided the night before to call Una, after a character of that name in a book she'd been reading — having completed her business, turned about and scurried back into the warmth of the cottage. Emma stepped aside to avoid getting sprayed by the water droplets that flew everywhere when Una shook out her coat.

It was while Emma was in her bedroom struggling with her hair — a battle waged daily between the thick blond curls that rose from her head like a corona and the stiff horsehair bristles that seemed ultimately useless at taming them — that she happened to look up and notice something unusual:

There was a hearse in her vegetable patch.

Emma had been holding several hairpins between her teeth as she attempted to maintain the twist at the top of her head, but she nearly swallowed them when she spotted the long black carriage. The dilapidated brougham — the only vehicle in the remote island village that possessed a roof of any sort — was led by a team of twin nags, both of whom were nosing about Emma's cabbages, which had only just sprouted.

Emma stared at the brougham, her hands frozen on top of her head in her astonishment. What on earth was the village hearse doing in her vegetable patch? There had been no deaths in the area — not that she knew of. Emma's cottage was located on an isolated cliff overlooking the sea. Her closest neighbors, Cletus MacEwan and his mother, lived nearly a mile down the sharp incline that led to the Chesterton property. Surely Mr. Murphy, the brougham's owner, couldn't think either of the MacEwans were dead. And obviously she wasn't dead.

True, Emma's husband Stuart had passed away, but that had been six months ago. And while Mr. Murphy was a bit of a drunkard, even he couldn't have forgotten that he'd already made that fateful pickup.

Unless — Emma lowered her arms, a cold dread growing inside her — unless Samuel Murphy was here for another reason altogether. Not to pick up a corpse, but to throw his hat into the circle of suitors — like Cletus MacEwan — who'd been so assiduously courting her since word of her highly unusual inheritance had spread up and down the shore.

"Oh, no," Emma said out loud. At her feet, Una wagged her tail happily, thinking Emma was speaking to her. "Not Mr. Murphy. Oh, please, not Mr. Murphy too."

It was bad enough she had Cletus MacEwan waiting on her doorstep every morning. Even worse, every time she entered the village she was besieged by eligible bachelors of all ages and descriptions, many of whom, being fishermen, attempted to woo her by waving the catch of the day at her.

But all that would be nothing, nothing at all, compared to being followed, day in, day out, by a big black hearse. With fringe hanging from its top, no less.

Determined that she would not allow this to happen, Emma went to her bed, where she'd abandoned her shawl the night before. Throwing the heavy wool garment about her shoulders, she stalked from the bedroom, going straight to the front door without so much as a glance at the giant huddled in front of the cheerful fire upon her hearth.

The front door to her cottage was split, Dutch style, so that Emma could open the top half to enjoy the fresh ocean breeze in spring and summertime, without letting in any of the livestock that happened to be roaming in her yard. She opened the top half then, peering out through the rain at the black brougham and the lonely driver perched atop it, seemingly oblivious to the wet.

Drawing in a deep breath, Emma shouted over the steady pounding of the rain, "Samuel Murphy! What do you think you're doing? You had better have a good reason for making wheel ruts in my vegetable patch!"

Behind her, she heard Cletus MacEwan stir.

"Murphy," he burst out incredulously. "What's 'e doin' 'ere?"

Though he could not have heard the question, Mr. Murphy, atop the driver's seat of the hearse, tipped his sodden top hat politely and called across the yard, "Brung someone ta see ye, Miz Chesterton!"

It was only then that Emma noticed that there was someone inside the brougham. Since no one in Faires would ride in that wretched contraption unless he were stretched out in a pine box, no longer in a position to have any say in the matter, it was understandable that Emma would not have considered this before. But of course, in a veritable deluge like the one they were experiencing at that moment, anyone wishing to visit her without getting completely soaked would have to do so in the only enclosed vehicle in the area.

And that vehicle was, of course, Samuel Murphy's hearse.

"It's MacCreigh." Behind Emma, Cletus rose to his feet. He had to duck his head to avoid striking it on the roof beams stretched above him. Fearing for the china plates that rested on the upper shelves of the sideboard in the corner, which had a tendency to rattle alarmingly whenever Cletus MacEwan strode across the floor, Emma thrust out both her hands toward him.

"Now, Mr. MacEwan," she soothed. "Kindly seat yourself. There's no reason to think that — "

Seeing her guest's perturbed expression, and knowing how he happened to feel about Lord MacCreigh, who had called upon her at the cottage once or twice in the past — though never quite this early in the morning — Emma was not very surprised when he interrupted her.

"It's MacCreigh, I tell you!" Cletus insisted. He obliged her, however, by remaining where he was. "Sure as I'm standin' here. Too dandified to ride in the rain on his horse like regular folk, so he had to hire Murphy's hearse — "

Emma saw that if she was going to have any hope at all of keeping her china intact, she had better act, posthaste. After all, with bad luck like hers, she couldn't be taking any chances. Accordingly, she turned her face back toward the rain and shouted at the occupant of the brougham, "Lord MacCreigh, really, I am quite surprised at you. I thought I'd made it perfectly clear that my answer was — "

But as she was speaking, the brougham door swung slowly open, admitting from the confines of the vehicle a tall man swathed in a rich, fur-lined cloak. He stepped to the ground with considerable stiffness — hardly a surprise, since the interior of Murphy's carriage had been designed not for the comfort of the living but for the security of the dead.

It was only then that Emma saw that her visitor was not Lord MacCreigh at all.

Besides the fact that, despite what Cletus had said, Lord MacCreigh was not so dandified as to hire Murphy's brougham simply because of a little downpour — he was a fine horseman who never seemed the least perturbed by inclement weather — this man was nothing like her most relentless suitor. This man was dark, while Geoffrey Bain — the baron of MacCreigh — was red-haired; clean-shaven, whereas Geoffrey Bain wore a mustache. And beneath the cloak, this man was dressed in a pair of fawn breeches and a green satin waistcoat; Geoffrey Bain had taken, since he'd been abandoned by his young fiancée earlier in the year, to wearing only black. Although the age — thirty — and the size — a little over six feet — looked about right, in every other respect the two men were complete opposites.


This man was a stranger to Emma. That in itself was odd, since strangers never came to Faires.

And they certainly never came to see her.

There must have been some mistake. Yes, there had to have been some kind of mistake. Because unless news of her inheritance had spread abroad — and oh, how Emma prayed that it hadn't! — there was no reason, no reason at all, why any stranger should seek her out.

And then the man started to approach the cottage, and Emma, getting a good look at his face for the first time, realized with a sinking heart that, as far as bad days went, this one really might end up being the worst.

Because this was no stranger. No stranger at all.

Copyright © 2002 by Meggin Cabot

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2007

    what a disappointment

    I was really excited about getting this book after reading Educating Caroline and Lady of Skye. But this book was a total disappointment. It was not even close to being as enjoyable. It took half the book to get to their marriage. And then, it was over almost immediately. There was just no character development. Rent do not buy if you have to try it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    Cute

    I enjoyed this book. It was my favorite. It look me awhile to warm to the plot line and to the characters. But it is a great read with a very romantic and cute plot line.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    Funny and great at the same time!!

    This book is filled with mystery, comedy and a great love story. Patricia Cabot is a great writer that has strung together a great story in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2004

    Awesome! Very Romantic

    This book made me read over and over!

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