Once upon a Wedding Night

( 15 )

Overview

An Innocent Deception . . .

Lady Meredith Brookshire has every right to Oak Run. Now that she's suddenly husbandless and penniless, where else would she, her addled father, and spinster aunt reside? Yet who should appear but Nicholas Caulfield, the new Brookshire heir, claiming the estate is rightfully his by law. The brute is as arrogant as he is handsome-besides, he's supposed to be dead. And the only plan resourceful Meredith can devise to save her family from homelessness is...

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Once Upon a Wedding Night

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Overview

An Innocent Deception . . .

Lady Meredith Brookshire has every right to Oak Run. Now that she's suddenly husbandless and penniless, where else would she, her addled father, and spinster aunt reside? Yet who should appear but Nicholas Caulfield, the new Brookshire heir, claiming the estate is rightfully his by law. The brute is as arrogant as he is handsome-besides, he's supposed to be dead. And the only plan resourceful Meredith can devise to save her family from homelessness is a desperate scheme that may lead her to salvation or ruin . . . and the bed of the man she has vowed to hate.

A reluctant aristocrat, Nick does not trust this fiery, infuriating chit whom he suspects of subterfuge-yet who bewitches him with her innocent green eyes. The sooner he can get this tempting beauty married off to some stodgy old blueblood-and off his hands for good-the better. There is one slight problem, however:

Nick can't bear the thought of her wedding any man but him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061122200
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/25/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 611,538
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Sophie Jordan

Sophie Jordan grew up on a pecan farm in the Texas hill country, where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she's also the New York Times bestselling author of Avon historical romances and the Firelight series. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she's not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows..

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Read an Excerpt

Once Upon a Wedding Night

Chapter One

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When we first practise to deceive.

Sir Walter Scott, "Marmion"

England, 1835

"It cannot be true." Lady Meredith Brookshire paced her drawing room, fisting the missive only just delivered into a crumpled ball.

"Might I see the letter?" her aunt asked, flicking her wrist in the air impatiently. "Before it is destroyed?"

Meredith blinked at the ball of parchment in her hand and quickly passed it to her aunt as if it were a deadly serpent. It might as well have been for the death knell it rang in her heart.

They had found him. The new Lord Brookshire. The missive did not indicate where they had located him, but he would surely descend upon them soon. Like a vulture scenting its next meal.

So much for the solicitors' assurances that he was dead, she mused wryly. Despite those assurances, they had put forth a search for him anyway. Blasted solicitors. Must they follow the letter of the law precisely?

Her aunt smoothed the crinkles out of the parchment, her expression growing perplexed as she scanned the message. "But, dearest, isn't he dead?"

Meredith continued to pace, rubbing the base of her palm against her forehead to ward off her impending headache. "Unless a ghost is about to descend upon us, Nicholas Caulfield is alive and well and intends to claim his inheritance." She halted her pacing steps as the ugly significance of Nicholas Caulfield's pending arrival washed over her. Ruin. Destitution. Doom settled like a heavy stone in her chest.

Surely he would rid the premises of his half brother's widow andher few clinging relatives. Then what? They had no other family to take them in. And Edmund had not provided for her beyond his death. Not that she would have expected him to for all the care and thought he extended her over the years. Still, she had not anticipated her husband expiring so young. He had only been thirty-five, and robust by all appearances, rare though the sight of him might have been.

Her hands balled into fists at her sides. "Blast Edmund! Do not husbands set up jointures for their wives?"

"Do not curse, dearest, and do not speak ill of the dead," Aunt Eleanor reproved with a chiding tsk. "Especially since he no doubt suffers in the throes of hell as we speak."

A smile tugged her lips at her aunt's uncharacteristic spite. Aunt Eleanor's nostrils quivered with disdain. "After all he put you through, the Almighty is not going to take a kindly view of him as he stands at Judgment."

"He did not put me through anything." The lie tripped off Meredith's tongue with practiced ease. "He wasn't cruel or abusive. He was just -- " She paused, groping for the appropriate word. Arriving at it, she shrugged and uttered, " -- absent."

"For seven years," Aunt Eleanor reminded hotly, her indignation on Meredith's behalf both familiar and tedious.

"I was quite content with the arrangement." Again, the fib fell smoothly. Content? Lonely was more accurate. "Many wives would appreciate being rid of their husband's oppressive yoke."

"Well, then he has put me through much suffering. Look at these dreadful frocks. I hate to speak uncharitably of the dead, even his rotten soul, but he's getting the last word if we wear these ghastly gowns." Aunt Eleanor plucked at the heavily starched black paramatta of her mourning dress. "I cannot wear black for an entire year. And certainly not for him. I haven't a turban to match."

Meredith looked down at her dress and frowned. Her aunt was correct. Nothing could complement such atrocious gowns, matching turban or no.

Aunt Eleanor's gaze slid over her in distaste. "You look like a ghost. Completely washed out."

Meredith sighed and touched her cheek wistfully, knowing -- with exception of a spattering of unfortunate freckles -- her skin was white as milk. A black gown had little to do with her resembling a ghost.

"We're not in Town. This is Attingham," Aunt Eleanor continued. "Who will comment if we only mourn for, say . . . three months?" She shrugged one thin shoulder. "Everyone knew you had a disagreeable marriage. No one would blame us for the slight breach."

"My marriage was perfectly agreeable." Meredith leveled a stern look on her aunt, annoyed by her allegation that everyone knew. If everyone knew, it was because her aunt's complaints had reached all of Attingham.

"Posh! He embarrassingly neglected you."

"Only you were embarrassed," Meredith reminded with the stoic facade she had mastered over the years. On certain days she could almost convince herself that the years of neglect did not bother her -- days her aunt usually wasn't around.

"Appalling. The way he left you, simply appalling," Aunt Eleanor forged ahead with the mercilessness of a battering ram. "Not what the earl had in mind, I warrant. Perhaps it's best the old gent did not live to see his son abandon you."

"Well, the earl will no doubt get the heirs he always wanted." Meredith sank down on the settee, arms falling limply at her sides. "Only from the wrong son."

"You should have borne those heirs. If Edmund had been any kind of husband, you would have a dozen babes by now. Not to have even consummated -- "

"Please." Meredith lifted a hand to ward off the rest of her aunt's words. Some memories were too bitter to speak aloud. The night her husband had refused to consummate their marriage and walked out on her was one such memory.

"And now we will lose Oak Run to this . . . man, when it has been you caring for everything." Aunt Eleanor counted off on her fingers. "You've managed the house, the servants, the tenants, the dairy, the harvesting -- "

"I know, I know," Meredith broke in, hot tears stinging the backs of her eyes. "I can do without the reminder." She blinked fiercely, refusing to succumb to the tears bubbling just beneath the surface. Ever since she . . .

Once Upon a Wedding Night. Copyright © by Sophie Jordan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    Good story

    very good book

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    OK!

    The book was ok. Not the worst, but I was expecting a little more from Sophie Jordan. If you have nothing else to read, sure go ahead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2007

    not good

    the story was not at all good there was nothing good about this book you don't see that he loves her till the very last page and then it is not even that clear he just seems that he is in it for the sex and she is just to intarally stupid in her self with no depth to her charachter it seemed like the end was just slapped together to say and they lived happly ever after

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    It is not bad

    This story has at least something a bit more interesting with an older, married widow. I like that she isn't some young thing...but I found it hard to swallow the part of her not knowing that her husband was 'gay'. They were married for seven years... There are very steamy sex scenes but I grew tired of it. It's not bad...if you need to read something romantic, sure - but I am always looking for something more original and it's just alright.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    fine historical romance

    In 1835 healthy Lord Edward Brookshire suddenly dies at thirty-five years old leaving his widow Meredith legally with nothing. His solicitors inform Meredith and her Aunt Eleanor that there is no living heir so she will own everything. That changes when the solicitors doing the legal requirement find that Edward¿s half-brother Nicholas Caulfield lives and is coming to claim his title and the Oak Run estate. --- Meredith assumes that Nicholas sharing the same blood as Edward would prove uncharitable towards her increasingly unstable dad, her aunt, the few remaining loyal servants and herself. She and Eleanor decide to fake a pregnancy leading to an infant boy to claim as the heir which is ironic since Meredith remains a virgin after seven years of marriage to an absentee spouse. When Nick arrives, he immediately distrusts everyone especially the widow as he has returned home where he and his mother were once tossed out. As the enemy combatants skirmish they fall in love, but who will swallow their pride and take a chance with the truth that beats inside each heart? --- This delightful debut is a fine historical romance starring a desperate heroine and a not so likable male lead. Interestingly it is Nick whose arrogance and nastiness provides a freshness to an otherwise somewhat by the book tale as he has a reason to hate the villagers and distrust the widow. As he begins to admire Meredith for caring about others and soon falls in love with her, she feels like a traitor as she shares his deepest feelings especially when she observes a different side to him when it comes to the downtrodden and helpless. Sub-genre fans will look forward to more works by Sophie Jordan, who provides a strong opening act. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    A divine debut! Sparkling with wit and romance

    Lady Meredith Brookshire may be a virgin, but she¿s no shrinking violet. Married to a neglectful husband for seven years, she¿s now a widow who knows exactly what she wants and precisely what she doesn¿t¿a man. The rightful heir to the Earl of Brookshire will likely send her packing, and a new husband will either keep her under his thumb or break her heart and hurt her pride just as surely as the last. The only male she is willing to welcome is a babe, who will eventually grow to become the rightful heir of Brookshire. The only trouble is that she¿s not pregnant. And so begins her deception. As a small boy, Nick Caulfield was banished from Oak Run with his mother, and he has lived a hard life on London streets, far from the privileged ballrooms of the ton. Nick has no use for his old life or the vagaries of fate that have made him an earl, and he is content that Meredith¿s child should inherit. His feelings for Meredith are somewhat more tumultuous: he is determined to dislike her simply for her connection to the family that abandoned him, and yet he can¿t help but grudgingly admire her. The emotional tug-of-war is driving him crazy, prompting his efforts to crack her composure just as thoroughly as she¿s cracked his. When Meredith¿s deception is revealed, Nick is furious, but he agrees to provide her with a Season so that she can find another husband and he will be free to relinquish guardianship. Two strong and stubborn wills immediately collide on subjects as varied as hair dye and acceptable flirtation techniques. And all the while, the pair can¿t keep their hands off each other. Meredith is discovering her own lust for a man she dislikes with a vengeance, and Nick sees in her a fiery, passionate nature that sparks his ire as easily as his desire. So as Meredith attempts to snare a husband before the Season¿s end, desperate to rid herself of Nick¿s oppressive and distractingly sexy presence, Nick conspires to thwart her at every turn, even going so far as to compromise her and then confess the deed during a suitor¿s proposal of marriage. Society¿s rules may compel them to marry, but in order for the match to be anything more than a scandal avoidance technique (with occasional bedroom visitations), the two must look to the future instead of the past, swallowing pride and squelching prejudice in order to find true love. In her eloquently penned debut, Sophie Jordan adds another level to Regency romance. This is not simply a story of a lady who must find a husband. It is a tender portrayal of two wounded individuals whose lives become more intricately woven with each meeting. The writing style is confident and sure, the prose, lush and seductive, and the dialogue, peppered with wit. Once Upon A Wedding Night is a divine debut, and Sophie Jordan is a wonderful discovery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2006

    A thoroughly delightful read!

    In ONCE UPON A WEDDING NIGHT Sophie Jordan has created a regency romance that takes us beyond the rarified world of the ton in the story of two passionate people who have promised themselves never to love again. Lady Meredith Brookshire finds herself a widow without ever truly having been a wife. She has an elderly aunt, a father suffering from dementia and a motley household of servants who depend on her. And they all may be destitute once the new earl, her husband¿s mysterious half brother, arrives. Her aunt convinces her that the only answer to their dilemma is for Meredith to pretend she¿s pregnant, an ironic situation given that her husband rejected her on their wedding night seven year ago without consummating the marriage. In nine months they plan to find a boy baby and their futures will be safe. Nick Caulfield doesn¿t want to be an earl. He hated the father who turned his mother and Nick into the streets to fend for themselves. Nick has become rich as the owner of a gaming hell but he¿ll never forget that his mother died in poverty. When he arrives at the family estate, he¿s delighted to find that his brother¿s widow is expecting, thus relieving him of a title and responsibilities he doesn¿t want. But his sister-in-law is not what he expected and he¿s both drawn to her and protective of her and her unborn child. Meredith had been prepared to dislike her husband¿s half brother who she expected to be as cold and cruel as the late earl. Instead she finds a kind, generous, incredibly attractive man who inadvertently gives her a glimpse of the pain inflicted on him by his father. She begins to feel guilty for deceiving him but she¿s in her lie too deep to back out. When Nick demands that she find a husband before the end of the London season, he soon realizes that, although he doesn¿t trust her, he wants her in his own bed. Meredith is ready to enter into a loveless marriage, but first she longs to explore the passion she feels whenever she¿s with Nick. ONCE UPON A WEDDING NIGHT is a very satisfying story with richly developed characters and a well paced plot. Meredith and Nick both face real world practical problems which force them to make difficult decisions that challenge their sense of morality. Their attraction to each other is irresistible but the obstacles to their relationship go beyond pride and ego to deep seeded hurts that they both must be willing to face. The secondary characters are especially well drawn, enriching the story by providing interesting contrasts to the hero and heroine and occasionally a bit of humor. I think historical romance fans will be thoroughly delighted by Sophie Jordan¿s debut novel.

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    Posted November 9, 2011

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    Posted January 18, 2010

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted July 9, 2011

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