Love with the Perfect Scoundrel

Love with the Perfect Scoundrel

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by Sophia Nash

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Only a man with a mysterious past could tempt the Countess from the Isle of Ice . . .

Twice jilted, Grace Sheffey has given up on love. No longer capable of maintaining her elegant facade with her intimate circle of friends, she has little choice but to flee . . . right into the teeth of a blizzard. But when her wretched carriage ride ends in disaster, a rugged,


Only a man with a mysterious past could tempt the Countess from the Isle of Ice . . .

Twice jilted, Grace Sheffey has given up on love. No longer capable of maintaining her elegant facade with her intimate circle of friends, she has little choice but to flee . . . right into the teeth of a blizzard. But when her wretched carriage ride ends in disaster, a rugged, imposing stranger is waiting to save her life . . . and her heart.

Michael Ranier is a man of many secrets—secrets that could place the countess in terrible danger. But concealed in the wilds of Yorkshire, he can't help but unleash her hidden reserves of desire and fortitude—and challenge her to blossom into the woman she was destined to become . . . a lady willing to sacrifice all to find love with the perfect scoundrel.

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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Love with the Perfect Scoundrel

Chapter One

Nobody could really explain the reasons behind the failed engagements of the beautiful Countess of Sheffield.

Oh, there was speculation. Oodles of speculation, and none was kind.

But that was to be expected.

For the aristocracy of England was unparalleled in its ability to knock one of their own off the fragile ladder of rank...with merely a look or an emphasis on a single syllable of a word. And they accomplished it with relish...especially during the little season, when few of the amusements of town were in the offing.

Yes, during those cold days of December, Grace Sheffey often wondered with dark humor if it had something to do with all the falsely elegant variations of boiled mutton and prune pudding that coddled lords and ladies endured following autumn's cornucopia.

Whatever the cause for the malaise coursing London's ballroom jungle, the countess knew that the traditional method of clawing out survival involved an iron jaw and a tin ear. For if a lady possessed an "of" in her name, she had best armor herself well against the vicious jaded humor prowling about Mayfair's upper ten thousand.

And so, after fleeing her circle of friends in Cornwall on the heels of her second engagement debacle, Grace tightened her corset and valiantly tried to brazen out the sting of rumors in London.

And failed.

Quite miserably and quite alone, for there had not been a single invitation addressed to her for a single event during the upcoming holidays, nor had there been a single acceptance to a small soiree she had meticulously planned.

There were only regrets. Regrets fromeveryone she had invited and her own regrets for ever thinking she should attempt a return to London in the heat of such ferocious gossip.

That was why she next chose to do what she did best: to leave. Again. Grace Sheffey decamped from this newest disaster in the making, as far and as fast as she could. Little did her kindhearted traveling companion know of Grace's ultimate plan.

"Put your feet on the hot brick, lass," Mr. John Brown pleaded, his bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows rising over faded, owlish eyes.

"I'm perfectly fine, thank you," replied Grace softly, taking care to keep her back perfectly arched, her lustrous pearls and dress perfectly elegant, her expression perfectly blank. "Forgive me, Mr. Brown, but do you think we'll reach York before nightfall?"

Silence and their frosted breath mingled inside the cold, cramped space.

"Perhaps," he said across from her as he rubbed at the tiny window and glanced at the leaden sky. "But perhaps no. Roman is an excellent driver, but I see patches of ice forming. Well, at least there's no snow. My old bones tell me it's too early in the season. But it might have been better to secure rooms at that last inn."

She put aside her book. "I'm sorry I asked that we continue on."

It was the longest stretch of conversation they'd had since leaving town. And it was the first time she'd offered anything other than a response to a question.

"No, Lady Sheffield, 'tis I who am sorry. I shouldna have presented you with the chance to go north with me. The dowager duchess will no' forgive me for taking you from her. But then again, she'll no' forgive me for anything else." He muttered the last under his breath. "Take this, Countess."

Grace grasped the heavy horsehair blanket but it slipped from her stiff fingers. Mr. Brown unfolded it and arranged it to cover both their laps.

"Lady Sheffield, I know you willna like me for it, but may I have a word? You've stewed too long. I know now you're no' going to crack and..."

He stopped cold when she dared lift her eyes to his. She then took care to draw the lacy veil of cool elegance back into place.

Mr. Brown would not be deterred. "Perhaps we should speak about your future, about the past, about your..."


"...recent ill fortune."

She exhaled sharply and her ghostly breath swirled into nothingness. "Do you mean to propose we examine all the details that led up to my being thrown over by one gentleman and jilted by the next, Mr. Brown?"

"There's no need to..."

"You're absolutely right. There's no need to discuss any of it. It's the most tedious story in the world. If you really want to help, perhaps you can give me your opinion concerning two bonnets I saw at Locke and Company. Shall I order the one in pale pink satin with grapes dripping off the ends, or should I reconsider the lace creation with the blue bird of happiness tipping drunkenly to one side? What say you, Mr. Brown? Are fruits or birds the thing this winter?"

He refused her well-baited trivialities like a cunning, seasoned old trout. "I admire you, Countess. More than you know. I've always thought you gentle, sweet, and full of feminine sensibilities. But I do believe I might have misjudged you on the last. I came prepared for this journey with three dozen handkerchiefs and yet they remain as dry as a Scotsman's throat when gin runs thin."

"Tears never change the facts, Mr. Brown."

He scratched his balding pate, returned his hat to its place, and refused to drop the matter. "After Ata is through with me, the marquis and the duke will probably drag my bones through all of England for taking you to Scotland."

"And I shall tell them that this was the only solution," she continued. "I will not ruin my friends' happiness by staying and becoming an embarrassing reminder of past expectations."

"Is that what you call ruptured engagements now? Past expectations?" He snorted. "The dowager duchess calls them something entirely different, and unforgivable. But that's not fit for your ears."

Grace knew his pride was still bruised from the dowager duchess's stalwart refusal to reconsider a life with him.

Love with the Perfect Scoundrel
. Copyright © by Sophia Nash. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sophia Nash was born in Switzerland and raised in France and the United States, but says her heart resides in Regency England. Her ancestor, an infamous French admiral who traded epic cannon fire with the British Royal Navy, is surely turning in his grave.

Before pursuing her long-held dream of writing, Sophia was an award-winning television producer for a CBS affiliate, a congressional speechwriter, and a nonprofit CEO. She lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with her husband and two children.

Sophia's novels have won twelve national awards, including the prestigious RITA® Award, and two spots on Booklist's "Top Ten Romances of the Year."

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Love with the Perfect Scoundrel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
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GGW More than 1 year ago
At long last, a good writer who understands "show don't tell" and good characters. Love With the Perfect Scoundrel was such a delight to read, I couldn't put it down. Since I had not read the two previous in the series, I was equally intrigued by the way the author did *not* spend time catching the reader up on the previous two books and was able to integrate pre-existing relationships without bogging down the pace. Needless to say, I'm going to buy all the other books by this author that I can locate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
She has been jilted and widowed so Grace Sheffey, the Countess of Sheffield, knows first and second hand love hurts. She refuses to ever fall in love again. Sick of pretending to be happy amidst her inane friends, Grace leaves Cornwall heading to the Isle of Mann only to be stranded by a blizzard.

Michael Ranier finds the marooned Grace and takes her to the safety of his remote home Brynlow. Grace accepts his hospitality while thinking society would condemn her for being in his home without a chaperone. In fact her Polite Society friends would insist frozen death is better than the scandal. However, as the commoner and the lady fall in love, he liberates the passion she has buried and her contentment enables her to also get the best sleep in her life, but his secrets threaten to reinforce her belief that love hurts.

This is a terific Regency romance starring two wonderful protagonists who find passion and love in a remote wintry setting, but each has reasons to believe love hurts so they fear their relationship as much as they want it. Fans will relish Grace¿s musings re the Ton that death is preferable over scandal. Although the ending is a bit too soft as chokes are made easier, LOVE WITH THE PROPER SCOUNDREL is a wonderful historical romance due to the fiery nature of the heroine.

Harriet Klausner
curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
This book was disappointing but I got it for a dollar so I didn't have high expectations. It was unbelievable and scattered. Don't recommend at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her books are beginning to manifest a sameness without much evolution.