Married in Haste

Married in Haste

3.9 414
by Cathy Maxwell
     
 

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New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s classic romance Married in Haste is a fan-favorite marriage-of-convenience tale that resonates with unforgettable passion and love.
 
Brenn Owens, The Earl of Merton, has come to London to choose a bride. A sexy war hero, he has his pick of the season’s debutantes, and once

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s classic romance Married in Haste is a fan-favorite marriage-of-convenience tale that resonates with unforgettable passion and love.
 
Brenn Owens, The Earl of Merton, has come to London to choose a bride. A sexy war hero, he has his pick of the season’s debutantes, and once he spies beautiful Tess Hamilton no other will do.
 
But Tess has a dark secret she’s desperate to hide—she has no choice but to marry quickly before her family’s ruin becomes grist for the gossip mill. She accepts Brenn’s sudden proposal without telling him the truth, but can she really marry him without feeling she’s betrayed him—especially when he offers ecstasy beyond her wildest dreams? And will he see her subterfuge as a lie?
 
Cathy Maxwell’s Married in Haste is a historical romance to fall in love with.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Society beauty Tess Hamlin has always had her pick of suitors, but no one has ever met her expectations. Brenn Owen, new Earl of Merton, home from the Peninsular Wars in 1814, has come to London to find an heiress in order to fund the rebuilding of his ancestral home. At a ball, a lighthearted joke, a bet among bored debutantes and flirtatious looks add up to an on-the-spot marriage proposal for Tess from the handsome war hero. It's all a lark until Tess's gambler brother informs her she must accept the offer, fast--for he's squandered her fortune at the gaming table and proud Tess will otherwise become society's laughingstock. In this tale of deception upon deception, Maxwell (Because of You) makes good use of her trademark clean, crisp prose style, weaving a reverse gift-of-the-magi tale set in the Black Mountains of Wales and starring two engaging and lusty protagonists. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061747335
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/14/2006
Series:
Marriage , #1
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
113,476
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

London, I814

Tess Hamlin slammed open the door to the ladies' retiring room. "Where is Leah Carrollton?"

The chatter of a half dozen young women dressed in their ball gowns of silks and Indian muslins came to an abrupt halt. The close air smelled of perfume, powder, and candle wax. All eyes turned to the doorway.

Tess smiled, pleased that she had their attention. She walked into the room.

Eyes widened and several pairs of lips formed silent O's but no one answered.

Anne Burnett, Tess's very best friend, gently touched Tess's arm, trying to pull her back. "Please, Tess. This isn't the time or the place. I shouldn't have said anything. Let us go back to the ballroom."

Tess shook Anne's hand away. "I am not going to let her get away with it. Not this time."

She confronted the young women. Many were new to this Season and, since Leah was one of them, her supporters. One or two others there had weathered previous Seasons—although none, not even Anne, had seen as many as Tess.

Not that Tess couldn't have contracted for a husband any number of times over the last several years. Occasionally, a lord or two had made her pause and consider her obligations to marry, but she'd held off. She was an heiress and, without being vain about her looks, she knew men found her attractive. Why else would they have dubbed her "the Incomparable"?

But she wasn't ready to settle down. She enjoyed the stirring of male appreciation when she entered a room. It gave her a feeling of power, a power she'd lose once she was married. Yes, some women claimed marriage gave them new freedom, but Tessdidn't agree. She'd watched too many women grow disillusioned and bored after the heady thrill of the wedding. Their lives were over. Even her brother Neil and his wife Stella went their separate ways.

To her, freedom had to mean something more than the liberty to come and go as she pleased without a chaperone or the opportunity to take on lovers once an heir was born. But she didn't know what the extra "something" was. Life should hold more than socializing and gossip, but what else was there? Until she knew the answer, she wasn't going to trap herself into marriage.

She brought herself back to the moment. The silly girls practically shook in their kid slippers at the thought of incurring her displeasure. She honed in on a tall blonde, Daphne, the oldest daughter of a duke.

"Daphne, do you know where Leah is?"

"N-no, I don't," Daphne squeaked out.Anne shut the door behind her. "Tess, stop this. You are giving the poor girl a fright."

Good, sweet Anne. "If I don't crack the whip every once in a while then we'd all be run over by the likes of a Leah Carrollton."

"Did someone mention my name?" A young woman stepped out from behind a japanned privacy screen. She was a bold, voluptuous beauty with just the right touch of pout to her lower lip to make men dance in constant attendance.

Since the beginning of this year's Season, Tess and Leah had been cast in the roles of competitors, at first more for the contrast in their looks than any real disharmony between them. Tess was a proud red head who stood equal in height to most men. Poems had been written comparing her eyes to the light sparkling off the blue waters of the Mediterranean or the stained glass in Salisbury Cathedral.

Petite Leah's exotic dark eyes and coal-black hair seemed to have the power to mesmerize men. Even the Prince of Wales had succumbed to her charm.

In between these two rivals stood Anne with her soft, curling brown hair, heart-shaped face, and trusting eyes. Tess didn't understand why everyone didn't see what a noble, wonderful person Anne was. Anne preferred staying in the background and easily forgave slights from others. Why, she was so kind, she'd even forgiven that odious gossip Deland Godwin. Years ago when she was first presented to Society, he'd branded her a "toad eater," the term used to describe a woman without any means of support other than reliance upon the whims and goodwill of her relatives.

Well, she'd not be ill-treated this time. She had Tess to champion her.

Leah made her way to a washstand to wash her hands. Her gaze met Tess's in the large mirror hanging on the wall. "Did you wish something, Miss Hamlin?"

"It's nothing—" Anne started but Tess cut her off.

"You know what you've done. The question is, do you dare own up to it in front of the others?"

Leah accepted a linen towel from the maid as she drawled lazily, "I haven't any idea what you are talking about." She moved away from the mirror toward the door. "Now, if you will excuse me, I am promised for the next dance."

Tess stepped right in her path. "Mr. Hardiston." All her anger could be summed up in that one name.

Leah stopped. Her lips curved into a smile. "Archie?"

Tess almost growled with anger. "You know he was Anne's."

"I know no such thing. Had he made an offer?" Leah looked to Anne, whose face had gone pale.

Her expression gave Tess a stab of guilt but she forged ahead, speaking for Anne. "He was going to."

"But he hadn't, had he?" Leah said.

"His mother had talked to Anne's aunt."

"But he had yet to speak his thoughts," Leah reiterated, raising her voice so that all in the room could be privy to what was being said. "Had he?" she asked Anne directly.

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