A Perfect Bride

A Perfect Bride

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by Samantha James

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The incomparable USA Today bestseller Samanth James cordially invites you to Regency England for a Sterling affair . . .

Perfectly Marvelous

Devon St. James must surely be dreaming! She closes her eyes in London's poorest slum, and awakens wrapped in fine linens . . . staring into the eyes of the most gorgeous man she has ever seen! Sebastian Sterling,


The incomparable USA Today bestseller Samanth James cordially invites you to Regency England for a Sterling affair . . .

Perfectly Marvelous

Devon St. James must surely be dreaming! She closes her eyes in London's poorest slum, and awakens wrapped in fine linens . . . staring into the eyes of the most gorgeous man she has ever seen! Sebastian Sterling, marquess of Thurston, is clearly shocked to have a girl from the streets in his bed, though the heat of the desire burning in his gaze is unmistakable. But if he believes Devon will easily submit, he is quite mistaken!

What the devil has he done? It's bad enough their family is already mired in scandal, now Sebastian has to deal with the exquisite young beauty in rags he had impetuously carried into his home! Worse still, the lady is driving the serious, responsible marquess to distraction with her fiery spirit and breathtaking sensuality. But perhaps, just perhaps, with some of Sebastian's private schooling, this low-born enchantress can learn refinement and manners—and be miraculously transformed from merely his passionate obsession into . . .

A Perfect Bride

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.06(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.05(d)

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A Perfect Bride

Chapter One

Late March 1815

Devon St. James was in a dreadful fix.

Two days hence, the rent was due on the cellar room where she lived. Her landlord, Mr. Phillips, had raised it to an outrageous sum. Devon was both furious and amazed, for the room was scarcely able to accommodate a stool and the narrow bed she had shared with Mama before she died. To make matters worse, he'd informed her but yesterday, the wretch!

"Thieving monster," Devon muttered under her breath. She tugged almost viciously at the ribbons of her bonnet. The same treatment was accorded the ties of the voluminous cloak she flung over her shoulders. A sad, limp affair, its hem ratty and uneven, it was far too large for a frame as small as hers. In places it nearly touched the ale-spotted, pitted plank flooring beneath her feet. But it served its purpose -- as did the remainder of her clothing -- and for that she was grateful.

Carefully smoothing a hand over the rounded mound of her belly, she paused at the back entrance to the Crow's Nest, the tavern near the Strand where she worked. Shutting the door firmly behind her, she stepped out into the damp, misty night. Not a night went by that she didn't dread the long walk home through the crisscross of dark alleyways. Tonight it was even later than usual before the last patron had stumbled from the taproom. Seeking to fortify herself, she reminded herself she'd made the journey safely for nearly a year now.

A year. God above, a year.

For the space of a heartbeat, a wave of bleakness chilled her soul. God, but it felt as if a lifetime had passed since then! When Mama had died, the loss was like a knife to the heart. Indeed, she thought with a pang, at times it was difficult to refrain from discouragement. But something inside would not allow her to resign herself to working as a barmaid forever. Mama had hated that she worked there -- and so did she. No, she would not give up her hopes and dreams. Indeed, she was more determined than ever ...

Someday she would find a way out of St. Giles. Some way ...

It was a vow made long ago. Avow she was determined not to forsake.

But how was another matter, for Phillips's words of this morning echoed in her brain. Though it had cost her dearly, she had swallowed her pride and pleaded with him. If he would only allow her some time to cover the sharp increase in rent ...

"I will not!" he had snarled. "Me mind is made up. Ye'll pay, missy, else ye'll find yerself out on the street!"

His angry flare had left her in no doubt. He meant what he said.

He was, she decided blackly, a scoundrel. She had despised him for years now, for the wretch had always been rude and hateful to her mother. But however much she might wish Phillips to the devil and beyond, it would not solve her own dire straits. Only money could do that.

Continuing on toward St. Martin's Lane, Devon considered the precious stash of coins nestled in the left pocket of her gown; her wages had come due today. Only a week ago, she'd been so certain there would be more than enough to cover the rent! She'd even imagined she might be able to buy another gown, and improve her chances of obtaining employment other than as a barmaid. But now it would take every penny of her wages to cover the rent ... and more.

A chill seized hold of her, a chill that had nothing to do with the cool night air. Dear God, what if Phillips did cast her out?

Rounding the corner, she managed to quell the dread roiling in her belly. Instead she directed her attention back to her surroundings. It was quiet, as quiet as it could be in this part of London. Darkness smothered the rooftops. During the day, horses and carriages jostled for room along narrow streets. Tradesmen's shouts filled the air, struggling to be heard above the bustle of activity.

Her cloak flapped about her ankles as she hurried past the Seven Dials -- not easy given the bulk of her middle. She slipped once on the cobbles, slick from an earlier shower. The girth of her belly made her balance tricky, but she managed to right herself without mishap. Her gaze swept around again as she did so. There was no one about.

"Your plight might be easier were you to take some of the patrons in the back room now and then," Bridget had commented earlier that day. "That's what I do when I'm in need of a shilling or two."

The ease with which she advised was telling -- Bridget scarcely gave a second thought to such activity. While Devon was aware that Bridget meant well, she could hardly do as Bridget suggested. For she refused to make her living on her back.

Another promise she'd made to herself.

As she tugged her cloak more closely about the bulk of her middle, her gaze encompassed the next corner. God knew, the streets of St. Giles were mean and merciless -- no place for a lady.

Especially at night.

Of course, not that she was a real lady, as Mama had been. Though Mama had worked as a seamstress for as long as Devon could remember, she knew that her mother had been employed as a governess before she was born.

But society, she thought with a trace of bitterness, was not forgiving of an unmarried woman with a child at her breast, and it was that which had forced her mother into poverty.

Almost without knowing it, her hand stole to the pocket of her gown. Warm fingertips brushed against cool metal. She fingered the cross. Remembrance flooded through her ... As Mama had breathed her last, Devon had slipped the necklace from her mother's pocket ...

A Perfect Bride. Copyright © by Samantha James. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

It was Samantha James's love of reading as a child that steered her toward a writing career. Among her favorites in those days were the Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames series of books. She still loves a blend of mystery and romance, and, of course, a happily-ever-after ending. The award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many romances and one novella, her books have ranged from medieval to Regency.

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A Perfect Bride 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader of historical romances. Read them for over 20 years (from high school on). I stopped the last few years as I got bored with the authors, characters and story lines. I started reading again in 2005. I selected a few new authors to try and found Samantha James by the reviews I saw. I read her book 'His Wicked Promise' and reviewed that too. Thought it was a good read - different story line and characters that were appealing. I also picked up 'A Perfect Bride'. This was even better than the first book I read. I really enjoyed the story line of Devon and Sebasatian. I can honestly say that the booked flowed very well and the plot line moved along fast. You definately got a feel for all the characters and connected with them. No one was too gorgeous, too stupid or too evil. They all just worked - Sebasatian the dignified and honorable hero, Devon the poor yet beautiful heroine and secondary characters like The Countess, Justin and Julianna (some of this story clearly started to be geared toward future books in the works like 'A Perfect Hero for Julianna' and 'A Perfect Groom for Justin'). Regardless...the plot was not deep by any stretch of the imagination (you know, rich guy meets poor girl...they find a way to fall in love and make it work) but, it was lively and entertaining. You were rooting for the characters to get together and make it work from the start. They might have had great differences at first but, in the end, their attraction, friendship and love clearly won out. I also liked that for once the hero and heroine weren't constantly at each other's throats and denying all their feelings - this book actually developed a relationship like would happen in real life - very refreshing to see the chemistry build between them. I get irritated when an author has two people meet and they are sleeping together by the first chapter! Yes...two people can hook up that fast but, you don't buy a historical romance for a cheap one night stand. You buy it to make you think, dream and wish for something better. I feel you get that with Sebastian and Devon. Buy this book - you will enjoy it immensely if you like historical romances. The passion was fine but, for once, the story line was even better. Often if a book does not have good characters, you need passion and serious sex to make up for it. This one worked in all areas. I'll be reading the two follow up books to this one and hope for great things. Samantha James appears to be a strong author getting even better. I'm confident you'll enjoy this book.
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LHR5 More than 1 year ago
Loooooved this book. I actually read the last in the series “The Perfect Hero” and loved it and was pleasantly surprised that it was part of a series. Therefore, I bought the first in the series and fell even deeper in love with the Sterlings and I just finished reading “The Perfect Groom” and I loved that one two. I found the stories in all of Mrs. James books so engaging and I got so lost in the romance that I read the book in one day-I just could not put the book down. I love her writing, I have read several of her other books and I would recommend Samantha James to anyone looking for a GREAT historical romance. I am currently reading the “The Truest Heart” and I am hoping o fall in love with this one as well.
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dlindenf More than 1 year ago
This was a great first book of the trilogy by Samantha James. I loved it!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this novel for there was no boring parts, it kept you reading to the end. I highly recommend this book for readers who love a romantic and happily ever after sort of ending.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1815, Devon St. James walks home alone at night from her job on the mean streets of St. Giles. Two thugs accost her, but she manages to kill one of them before the other knocks her out. Lord Sebastian Sterling enters the London slum looking for his younger brother when he sees the unconscious woman. Out of character for the normally prim Sebastian, he takes her to his home.............................. As Sebastian nurses Devon, he initially believes she is a thief and a strumpet. When he sees where she lives and works, he becomes outraged. As he worries about her returning to the slums especially with the other criminal waiting to enact vengeance on her, he also falls in love with her. She reciprocates, but believes he would never want her beyond being his mistress. Sebastian, who observed the unhappiness and fights between his parents, had never wanted passion, but now he needs to persuade Devon with her that is exactly what he needs for a lifetime............................. This is an interesting Regency romance because of the courage of the heroine and the changing reactions of the lead male towards his ¿guest¿. The secondary characters add depth whether they are a street thug or Sebastian¿s brother. Fans will enjoy this fine look at a couple whose childhoods were wanting for different reasons as both realizes money cannot buy happiness, but it does help eliminate stress inducers................................ Harriet Klausner