A Midsummer Bride

A Midsummer Bride

4.4 9
by Amanda Forester
     
 

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One Unconventional American Heiress Can Be Even Wilder Than the Highlands...

Outspoken American heiress Harriet Redgrave is undeniably bad ton. She laughs too much, rides too fast, and tends to start fires pursuing her interest in the new science of chemistry. And despite her grandfather's matchmaking intentions to the contrary, Harriet has

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Overview

One Unconventional American Heiress Can Be Even Wilder Than the Highlands...

Outspoken American heiress Harriet Redgrave is undeniably bad ton. She laughs too much, rides too fast, and tends to start fires pursuing her interest in the new science of chemistry. And despite her grandfather's matchmaking intentions to the contrary, Harriet has no interest in being wooed for her wealth.

Duncan Maclachlan, Earl of Thornton, would never marry to repair the family fortunes. Or would he? When he saves Harriet from a science experiment about to go very, very, wrong, all bets are off.

Marriage Mart Series:
A Wedding in Springtime (Book 1)
A Midsummer Bride (Book 2)
A Winter Wedding (Book 3)

Praise for A Wedding in Springtime:
"This entertaining novel is a diamond of the first order...the clever combination of wit, romance, and suspense strikes all the right notes."—Booklist
"Forester promises her fans a warm, humorous jaunt through Regency England—and she delivers with a cast of engaging characters and delightful intrigue."—RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/30/2013
Forester follows A Wedding in Springtime with an ingeniously funny historical. American heiress Harriet Redgrave is shocked when the American ship she’s on is captured by Britain’s Royal Navy and the crew are impressed into service in the war against Napoleon. The Navy delivers her to London and the Earl of Langley, her estranged grandfather, who disinherited Harriet’s mother for marrying a sea captain and who is now determined to marry Harriet to a titled lord. Duncan Maclachlan, the impoverished Earl of Thornton, could use a wealthy wife, but he cares more about a happy marriage. When Harriet is reluctantly shepherded to Duncan’s Highlands house party, it’s amusingly clear that her American ways, including attempting scientific experiments that result in charred drapes, are out of place in English high society. To Duncan’s consternation, he finds her fascinating: “smart and honest and kind, and mysterious, and more than a little touched in the head.” The witty dance of friendship between the two leads both in a direction neither is truly prepared for. Circling spies and thieves provide for divertingly funny subplots, and Forester magically makes it all work. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"An ingeniously funny historical... Circling spies and thieves provide for divertingly funny subplots, and Forester magically makes it all work. STARRED review" - Publishers Weekly

"This sprightly romance sparkles with light humor and a delightful cast of characters" - RT Book Reviews

"A sweet story of a man and woman finding that spark that will ignite into an all-consuming passion." - The Window Seat on a Rainy Day

"It is really nice to know that there are still ways to freshen up the traditional romantic themes. " - Musings on Literature

"As a whole, this story was very enjoyable and I often found myself laughing out loud, which is always a very good thing" - Novels Alive TV

"Overall I enjoyed the characters and the plot. A very good story for any one of any age that loves historical romance." - Mrs. Condit & Friends

"The writing of this novel was very well done with lots of humor included. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ms. Forester's novels." - bookworm2bookworm

"Love a good ole fashioned historical romance with some mystery, humour and a beautiful couple finding their way to each other? Check this series out. You most certainly will find a bit of this and that!" - The Reading Cafe

"This is one thrilling ride you won't want to get out of and will have you guessing how it will turn out till the end." - With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

"So ready for the next one." - A Novel Addiciton

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402271823
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
11/05/2013
Series:
Marriage Mart , #2
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
44,504
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Prologue


Off the New England coast, 1810


The ship was going down. And since she was on said doomed vessel, the situation was most inconvenient.


The ship's normal sway across the water ceased and it began to list to the port side. Harriet and Nellie had taken refuge in their cabin when the enemy frigate began to fire. Now the shouts and shots and clangs of battle raged on the main deck above them.


Harriet held tight to the bunk, trying to steady her balance and her nerves. Her father was a renowned American sea captain and had once told her he laughed in the face of battle. Harriet was a long way from laughing, but she was determined to keep a level head.


"I am sure it will be well," soothed Harriet, trying to think of something comforting to say to her longtime maid, Nellie. Neither lady believed it.


"Trouble, the both of you," muttered Nellie. "You're just like your mother, you are."


"You cannot possibly blame this on me," defended Harriet. "All I wanted to do was go to New York to meet my parents. I have no idea where that English frigate came from."


All became deadly quiet and the ship's list became more pronounced. Harriet's pulse raced. She had been on ships all her life, though never in a sea battle, and this movement of the ship was unknown to her. It scared her in a way that sickened her stomach. The only thing between them and the ice-cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean was heading to the bottom of the sea. If they didn't want to go with it, they needed to get out of their cabin and abandon ship.


"We must get on deck," said Harriet with what she hoped was calming cheerfulness.


"No! We'll be killed," gasped Nellie.


"Sounds like the battle is over. Hopefully we will find our dear Captain Wentworth has repelled these English scum. But either way, we need to get to the decks." And find a lifeboat. She spared Nellie that last concern, the poor woman was terrified enough as it was. Truth be told, so was she.


Harriet scanned the cabin. To her dismay, much of her equipment had been thrown to the floor in the battle. Many of the glass vessels had shattered, but some items were salvageable. The ship listed further to port side, sending more books toppling off the shelves.


"If we are going to leave, we should do it." Nellie was right of course, but Harriet could not leave her work behind.


"Let me just grab a few things." Harriet scooped up a copper alembic, her mortar and pestle, several metal vessels, and a small box furnace and placed them in a blanket from her bunk, tying them up to form a carry pouch.


Clutching her precious equipment, Harriet led Nellie through the narrow passageway, which proved difficult. Furniture and stores and belongings had been thrown about, and they were forced to crawl over the debris and up the steep narrow stairs to find the main deck. Harriet had to use some muscle to clear enough of a path, but the thought of being trapped on a sinking ship was more than enough motivation to get her in the mood for a bit of exertion.


After some struggle, she reached daylight and slowly peeked out of the hatch. The main deck of their merchant brig was unrecognizable. The main mast had been struck and hung down at an odd angle; the canvas sails and rigging now littered the deck. The English warship was lashed to the side of their vessel. Much to Harriet's distress, English sailors had taken command of their ship and were forcing the American sailors into a line.


This was supposed to be a quick sail from Boston to New York, where she would join her parents. How could it go so wrong? And why would an English ship attack them?


Captain Wentworth saw them and gave a quick shake of the head. He did not wish them to be seen. Harriet moved back into the shadows, out of view.


"This is an outrage," Captain Wentworth shouted, a bright-red patch growing on the outer thigh of his white pantaloons. "By what right do you attack this merchant vessel? We are an American ship!"


"You are harboring deserters from His Majesty's Royal Navy," said an English officer. He wore a blue coat with one gold epaulet on his right shoulder, which Harriet guessed marked him as the captain. Though why he would attack an American vessel so close to their own shores was unknown to her.


"These men are all American citizens," said Captain Wentworth.


"These men are all able-bodied sailors and are needed for service. Congratulations, men, you have hereby volunteered for service in His Majesty's Royal Navy."


"This is outrageous!" bellowed Captain Wentworth. "You cannot press these men into service."


"I get paid by the head, my dear captain," said the English captain. "So yes, I can and will press these men into service. All except these two." He pointed at two sailors. "These two I know have served in the navy before and have deserted their post. They shall be hanged from the yardarm as traitors."


"No!" Harriet dropped her bag and charged on deck before she could consider the advisability of her actions. She knew these sailors and could not stand by and allow them to die. "These men are American citizens. Jimmy and Pat may have served in your navy in the past, but they are Americans now. You have no right to enter judgment against them. Besides, Patrick is not even English. He's Irish!"


"Good afternoon." The English captain took off his hat with a swoop and gave her a bow. "How lovely of you to join us. Unfortunately for your case, the Royal Navy does not recognize American citizenship, let alone see that as a justification for shirking military service. And frankly I could not care less whether this man is Irish or not. Discipline must be maintained."


"You cannot attack and board an American vessel and press her sailors into service. You cannot possibly do that. You are nothing but a pirate!" Harriet was outraged. Utterly. She glanced at Captain Wentworth and saw fear in his eyes.


Only then did she recognize her own predicament was dire. Traveling with Captain Wentworth, a longtime friend of the family, should have ensured a safe passage from Boston to New York, safer even than an overland journey. Harriet was accustomed to traveling by sea, but there was another, uglier side of sailing from which she had always been protected.


She had stumbled upon it now.


"Piracy is a serious charge. Fortunately, I am only following orders." The English captain gave her an unholy smile, cracking his weathered face. "I believe introductions are in order. I am Captain Beake, and who might you be?"


"This is Miss Harriet Redgrave, daughter of Captain Redgrave and Lady Beatrice." Captain Wentworth spoke with authority.


It had been a long time since anyone had called her mother by her title. In America, Harriet's mother was simply Mrs. Redgrave, and by all accounts happy to be so. In England, she was the daughter of an earl, a man she fled when she was just seventeen years old.


"Lady Beatrice?" Captain Beake's tone was doubting, mocking even.


Harriet had never touted her aristocratic pedigree, she never had cause to want to be anything other than her father's daughter. But now it was important to more than just herself to gain a modicum of respect from the English captain.


"I am the daughter of Captain Redgrave and the granddaughter of the Earl of Langley." Harriet squared her shoulders and met the English captain's eye, daring him to doubt her.


"Are you now?" The English captain scratched his chin. "Perhaps I should return you to your grandfather. He must be concerned for your welfare."


"I am sure he would reward you for delivering her to him unhurt." Captain Wentworth emphasized the last word.


Harriet shook her head, but Wentworth glared at her, his lips a thin line. He directed his gaze at the broken mast, the ominous black clouds, and then the ocean. His message was clear. The ship was going down and the weather was coming up.


"Captain Beake," Harriet said with what she hoped was authority. "I will accept your generous hospitality to be restored to my grandfather on one condition. You will not harm Jimmy and Pat." Harriet gave him the look she saw her mother wear only in times of great annoyance or peril. Her father called it the "societal setdown" and said it was a look perfected in the cradles of all aristocratic tots. Harriet hoped she could mimic her mother well enough to make up for her otherwise unconventional upbringing.


"I don't know why you should be in the position to make orders," grumbled Beake, but with a quick nod, the two sailors were released. "I shall leave them to deal with the weather. Honestly, a quick death may be preferable to drowning, but I am always at the service of a lady."


"Remember, no harm must come to her, or Lord Langley will hunt you down and have you and every man of your crew tortured unto death," warned Captain Wentworth.


Harriet made no comment to this patent untruth. In the twenty-three years she had been alive, she had never heard from her grandfather. The only thing she knew was that after her mother eloped with her father, Lord Langley had disinherited his daughter and refused to have any contact with them since.


The rest of the scene played out like a dream. Her trunks and Nellie's smaller bag were brought on board the English vessel, along with most of the American crew. Harriet did feel a little safer to be surrounded by men she knew, for while they were a little rough at times, they could be trusted. Jimmy, Pat, and the American officers, including Captain Wentworth, were left behind on the sinking ship.


"Be safe!" she called to the men.


"We shall make it back to land and alert your parents," said Wentworth, as bold a liar as he was a captain.


She stood at the stern and watched the American brig sink beneath the waves as she sailed away. She prayed for the safety of each man, many of whom she had known her entire life. The sun set over the place of her birth and she watched the land grow farther and farther away until the horizon was covered by black storm clouds.


When there was nothing left to be seen, she staggered through the driving rain to the bow and glared in the general direction of their destination. England. The land her mother had fled. How would her grandfather react when she arrived?


It was only darkness ahead.

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