The Prince's Bride

The Prince's Bride

4.2 9
by Julianne MacLean
     
 

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Handsome Prince Nicholas of Petersbourg is an infamous ladies' man, but even he doesn't expect a flirtation at a masquerade ball to turn into abduction. Especially with a jailor as temptingly beautiful as the young woman on the other side of the locked door …

Veronique Montagne was desperate when she agreed to kidnap a prince to settle her profligate

Overview

Handsome Prince Nicholas of Petersbourg is an infamous ladies' man, but even he doesn't expect a flirtation at a masquerade ball to turn into abduction. Especially with a jailor as temptingly beautiful as the young woman on the other side of the locked door …

Veronique Montagne was desperate when she agreed to kidnap a prince to settle her profligate father's gambling debts, and certainly didn't imagine that her prisoner might sweet-talk her into helping him escape. Saving her home is now the least of her troubles, especially when the attraction simmering between her and the angry prince blazes into true passion. To save them both from scandal, Nicholas proposes a convenient marriage—but when a vengeful plot threatens to tear them apart, he discovers that Veronique's love is what he desires most of all…
The Prince's Bride is part of Julianne MacLean's Royal Trilogy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“You can always count on Julianne MacLean to deliver ravishing romance that will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning.” —Teresa Medeiros

“Julianne MacLean's writing is smart, thrilling, and sizzles with sensuality.” —Elizabeth Hoyt

“Scottish romance at its finest, with characters to cheer for, a lush love story, and rousing adventure. I was captivated from the very first page. When it comes to exciting Highland romance, Julianne MacLean delivers.” —Laura Lee Guhrke

“She is just an all-around, wonderful writer and I look forward to reading everything she writes.” —Romance Junkies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312552817
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/30/2013
Series:
Royal Trilogy Series, #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
 
 
Paris
July 19, 1815

This was wrong, so very, very wrong.…
She was a villain tonight, there could be no denying it, but any guilt was somehow eclipsed by the unexpected pleasure of this wicked and very sinister charade.
The passion is not real, Véronique reminded herself as she took hold of Prince Nicholas’s gloved hand, met his gaze with a mischievous look of desire through her half mask, and allowed him to assist her into the coach.
Quickly, before he joined her, she glanced around at the cushions placed just so, the bottle of champagne in the corner, and breathed in the subtle scent of rosewater, which she had splashed onto the dark green velvet upholstery a few hours ago, before she’d entered the ball.
The coach lamp flickered wildly as the night breeze wafted in through the door. With graceful, controlled movements, she sat down and reclined seductively.
Prince Nicholas, her quarry, followed her inside and closed the door behind them.
At last, they were completely alone.
As he slid onto the seat beside her, the lamplight reflected off the brass buttons of his royal regalia and sparkled in his enticing blue eyes. His mask covered most of his face, but not those luscious full lips. Not that the disguise made a difference. She already knew what he looked like. He had been shown to her the day before, pointed out like a partridge in the wood.
“Look, that’s him down there—in the black coat. That’s Wellington beside him. Viscount Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary, is wearing the gray hat.” Pierre Cuvier handed her the spyglass. “Will you be able to pick him out in the crowd?”
Leaning out over the rail of the stone arch bridge that spanned the Seine, Véronique shut one eye, peered through the lens, and peered down at the three men standing on the bow of the boat as it passed beneath them.
She had been briefed about Prince Nicholas’s extraordinary good looks, but had not expected to nearly lose her breath as she caught him in her sights.
She’d also been warned about his notorious reputation with women. According to Pierre, he was a flagrant charmer and heartbreaker. A scoundrel of the highest order.
Now that she had seen him in the flesh, she understood why he could get away with such behavior. Not only was he a royal prince of Petersbourg—a small but powerful European nation on the North Sea—but he also had the face of a Greek god, with jet black hair and blue eyes, a teasing smile that could charm all the angels out of heaven, and a strapping muscular build, unquestionably fit for a throne.
Though he would likely never wear the crown, for his brother’s wife, Queen Alexandra, had recently given birth to a son.
None of that concerned Véronique, however. She had a job to do, and she must stay focused on the task at hand.
“Yes, I will be able to pick him out,” she replied as she snapped the spyglass shut and handed it back to Pierre.
“He’ll be wearing a mask,” he warned.
Véronique turned to walk back to the coach. “Don’t worry. It won’t be a problem.”
Yet here she sat this evening, reclining on the soft upholstered seat in the overheated coach, smiling at her captured prince with tempting allure, wondering how much time she had. How long would they be alone before the laudanum took effect? Five minutes? An hour?
Her desire for him was alarming, and she realized she may not be in full control here. She supposed she had known that before she stepped into the coach, for everything had turned rather warm and hazy in the ballroom when they first met. Something very potent had sparked between them, and now she was caught up in a delicious sexual current, which she feared might sweep her off her feet.
“I didn’t expect this tonight,” Nicholas said in a low, husky voice that heated her blood. “It was supposed to be a night of political debates and endless arguments.”
“You’ve all been arguing for days,” Véronique replied, referring, of course, to the fate of Napoléon, who had been defeated at Waterloo less than a month ago, and had just surrendered to the British. He had boarded the HMS Bellerophon at the port of Rochefort, but no one could agree on what to do with him. “Haven’t you had enough?”
Nicholas slid closer, slowly removed his gloves one finger at a time, then cupped her chin in his hand. “Enough talk of politics, yes, but not nearly enough of you.”
There it was … the famous charm. She would have liked to believe she was immune to it, for she was the seducer in this situation, but when he spoke to her in that velvety voice and touched her with those strong, gentle hands, she melted like every other woman who found herself blinded by his impossible charisma.
Keep your head, Véronique. It won’t be long now.…
“Are we going somewhere?” he asked while his gaze dipped to her parted lips. “Or did you invite me to your coach for some other decadent purpose?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Such as?”
The corner of his mouth curled up in a devilish grin. “I’m not sure, darling, but you seemed rather determined to lure me out of there. Where do you live? Is it far? Or do you have some other plan for me? A hotel perhaps, or a long, leisurely drive through the city?”
The coach lurched forward and pulled away from the curb.
Prince Nicholas’s eyes remained fixed on hers, and he smiled. “A drive it is, then.”
With a simmering look of desire, he kissed the side of her neck, and the moist heat of his lips lifted her into a dreamlike cloud of arousal. Letting her head fall back on the seat cushion, she laid her hands on the gold epaulets on his broad shoulders and closed her eyes. How relaxed she felt in his arms.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to let it go this far.…
Nicholas continued to lay a trail of hot kisses across her collarbone and down to her cleavage. “You taste sweet, my darling,” he whispered. “Like honey.”
Then he lifted his head and gazed intently at her for a heart-wrenching moment.
Slowly he reached up and pulled his own mask away. Tossing it to the floor, he said, “I am glad I found you tonight, and that you dragged me out of there.”
Seeing his whole face for the first time in the golden lamplight caused a shiver in her heart—a sudden twinge of uncertainty. Or perhaps a better word was regret, for what she was about to do to him.
What was it about this man? she wondered frantically. Was she foolish to think there was something more between them than a devious plot on her part, and a casual sexual seduction on his? Perhaps he made all women feel this way when he held them in his arms, as if there were something deep and profound between them. True love at first sight, so to speak.
She didn’t love him. No, of course she didn’t. To her, he was just a means to an end.
“May I have the pleasure of removing your mask, Véronique?” he asked. “I would like to see your face.”
She laid her gloved fingers upon it to hold it securely in place. “But isn’t this part of the allure?”
Her voice was full of a confident, teasing melody, but she felt her lip twitch at the dishonesty, for they were alone now, like true lovers. She reminded herself that she was being paid to seduce him, and very soon the mood in the coach was going to take a severe turn.
He surprised her then, by sitting back, slouching in the seat, and grasping her gloved hand. He looked down at it with curiosity as he weaved his fingers through hers. “You still haven’t told me your full name. Why ever not? Do you feel you must keep secrets from me? Is it because of who I am?”
A ball of heat caught fire in her belly. “I didn’t think the details of my identity—or yours—should matter to either one of us tonight. Napoléon will soon be dealt with, and for that reason, you won’t be in Paris much longer. Besides, I am no fool. I know your reputation. You want a single night of pleasure with me, no strings attached, isn’t that right?”
He paused. “Is that really what you think of me? Of this?”
She chose her words carefully. “Am I wrong?”
He said nothing while he rubbed the pad of his thumb over the back of her gloved hand. Then he raised it to his lips.
“I don’t know what has been happening to me lately,” he confessed with eyes closed. “I am not myself.”
“How so?”
He shook his head as if he had no answer to give; then he looked at her. “Perhaps it is the end of this bloody war. The world seems different somehow. Or maybe it’s the fact that my brother now has a wife and a son, and my sister has gone off to become a married woman as well.”
“Do they seem happy?” Véronique asked, curious about his perceptions of the world, and his illustrious family.
“My brother is happy. I am not sure about my sister. She is in Austria now, and I worry for her.”
“She is married to the future emperor. I am sure she will be fine.” Véronique looked out the window and wished she did not have to do what she must this evening. She wanted things to be different. “I heard that her husband was wounded at Waterloo.”
“Yes, but the archduke is on the mend. Thank heavens for that.” Nicholas was slouched very low in the seat with his head tilted back. He closed his eyes again. “Did you lose anyone at Waterloo, Véronique?”
She remembered certain days of the war and thought it would be best to avoid that painful subject. So she turned toward him again, her body at an angle, and rested her cheek on a hand. “We lost a neighbor—a young man who had been a playmate for my sister and me when we were young.”
Nicholas opened his eyes and regarded her in the dim lamplight. “You have a sister? Younger or older?”
“She is nineteen and in love with a gentleman who cannot marry her.”
He frowned. “Why not?”
“His parents will not approve the match. They have threatened to disinherit him if he makes a promise to her. They do not consider our family worthy enough for their son. He is a viscount,” she explained with a sigh. “My father owns a lovely piece of property. It borders theirs, but he has no title, and money is…” She swallowed hard. “The war was hard on us.”
A shiver moved through her, and as the coach rolled on, she found she could not avoid the truth after all.
“I did not tell you everything just now,” she continued. “We lost more than a neighbor. Both my older brothers … very early during Bonaparte’s campaigns.”
Nicholas’s dark brows pulled together in a frown. “So your family … they are Bonapartists?”
She shook her head. “Not anymore. It’s been years since that Corsican tyrant had a single shred of loyalty from us. We are relieved the king is back on the throne, but my father—” She paused again. “—he is not the same man he once was. He has taken to gambling and drinking.”
Nicholas raised her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly. “I am sorry to hear that, Véronique. I know what it’s like to lose someone.”
Her heart warmed at the kindness in his words, and for a moment she forgot what she was doing here. All that seemed to matter was the way he made her feel—like a woman who was meant to be loved.
By him.
But this was not love.
Still … there was something strangely enchanting about this encounter.
“You are referring to your father, the king?” she asked, in response to his last comment, for it was a well-known fact that the king of Petersbourg had been lethally poisoned the previous year.
Nicholas continued to kiss her hand and began to journey up her wrist while she tingled all over with pleasure. “And my mother died when I was very young. They say I took it hard.”
“You don’t remember?”
He seemed lost in thought, or very sleepy.… “I remember everything.”
The coach rocked back and forth as they made their way to the outskirts of the city.
“God, I’m tired all of a sudden,” he said as he reached out to pull her into his arms. “Come here, I want to hold you.”
She snuggled closer and rested her cheek on his shoulder.
“You smell good,” he whispered as he kissed the top of her head.
He smelled good, too. Véronique turned her face into the crimson wool of his jacket, which was decorated with a navy sash and a black belt with brass buttons. Closing her eyes, she inhaled in the delectable scent of his body.
He was a handsome royal prince, and his clothes smelled clean and regal, like nothing she’d ever smelled before.
She wanted to know so much more about him. If only they could continue talking this way, but the drug was taking effect. Soon he would be unconscious, they would reach the little farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, and everything would change. He would not say caring words to her when he learned what she had done to him.
She sat very still for the next few minutes. She did not move a muscle, nor did she initiate any further conversation. When the sound of his breathing grew slow and even, she carefully lifted her head to study his profile.
What a beautiful man he was. His dark features were perfectly sculpted. He had the enticing aura of someone born to be a woman’s dream lover, her Prince Charming in every way. It was almost comical that he was a true prince.
In that regard, his brother, King Randolph, would no doubt take notice of his mysterious disappearance from the Paris ball and leave no stone unturned in the quest to locate him and punish those responsible for the abduction.
With a sudden pang of dread for all that she would face in the coming weeks, Véronique carefully disentangled herself from Nicholas’s embrace, placed his arm gently upon his lap, and slid across to the opposite facing seat.
She watched him for a long time and wondered what he would think of her when he discovered her treachery.
She regretted it already, for there had been something truly extraordinary between them this evening. It was both sexually exciting and surprisingly intimate in a way she had not expected. As a result, this mercenary task had become a secret indulgence. For a while, she had forgotten that this was wrong, and that she was a corrupt, false-hearted charlatan.
If things were different, she would not have chosen this path for herself, but she was duty-bound to her family. She could not allow their entire world to come crashing down around them. Véronique would therefore do what was required and pray that somehow she would emerge unscathed.
The coach pulled to a halt, and she peered out the window.
The door flew open suddenly and banged against the outside panel. Véronique frowned at her sister, Gabrielle, who wore a black cloak with the hood pulled up to hide her fiery red hair.
“For pity’s sake, be quiet,” Véronique whispered. “We must be careful not to wake him.”
Gabrielle grabbed hold of the rail and swung into the dimly lit interior. She took a seat beside Véronique and stared with fascination at Prince Nicholas, who was sprawled out on the opposite seat like a gorgeous work of art. He slept soundly.
“How long has he been out?” Gabrielle asked.
Véronique removed her mask and gloves and rubbed her fingers over her cheeks where the stiff fabric had been too tight. “Not long. Ten minutes perhaps?”
Gabrielle inclined her head and leaned a little closer. “Upon my word, he is deadly handsome. How in the world did you keep your head?”
“It wasn’t easy, I assure you.”
“Did he kiss you?”
Véronique let her memory take her back to those first few moments.…
“Not on the mouth.”
Gabrielle’s eyebrows lifted. “Not on the mouth?” She spoke as if scandalized, but Véronique knew her sister was thrilled at the possibilities. “Care to explain?”
“No,” Véronique said. “There’s no time for that. I don’t know how long he will sleep. Did you bring the rope?”
Gabrielle pulled it from her cloak—like a rabbit out of a hat. “I’ve got it right here. Which one of us gets to do the honors?”
Véronique immediately snatched the rope from her sister. “I caught him,” she said, “so it’s only right that I get to bag him.”

 
Copyright © 2013 by Julianne MacLean

Meet the Author

Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author with degrees in English literature and business administration. She is a three-time RITA finalist, and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

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Prince's Bride 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Mirabelle8 More than 1 year ago
Breathless conclusion of THE ROYAL TRILOGY I wish to say thank you to Julianne MacLean for sending me an ARC of her latest book in her Royal Trilogy THE PRINCE'S BRIDE! I just finished reading it and again, I was not disappointed, I found it romantic as they usually are with her writing! Charming story of romance, intrigue, plot and blackmail! I loved her characters Nicholas of Petersbourg and Véronique Montagne. Nicholas is a ladies's man, a scoundrel, a heartbreaker and a charming Prince and Véronique a beautiful woman that you will soon discover. Véronique is desperate to settle her father's gambling debts and has agreed to kidnap the prince. Little that she knew that Nicholas would ask her to help him escape. Sparks will flare between the two. She, soon, regrets to have kidnapped him and fears the prince's reaction to her treachery. She did not anticipate being sexually excited by his presence. Nicholas will soon discover that a certain Lord d'Entremont has forced Véronique to kidnap him, for he has a hold on her. During his captivity, Véronique, with the help of her sister Gabrielle, will try to make his imprisonment more comfortable, but she soon fall for the charming prince. Nicholas will start to have feelings for her too. Trusting each other, she will help him to escape, but a plot is now in the open. Lord d'Entremont will reveal a secret about Nicholas's mother and it will cause a scandal. A secret, I will not tell, you will have to read this book to discover it. You will enjoy every minute of this breathtaking romance well written by Ms.MacLean. She never disappoints me, I love her style of writing, her romantic stories. As soon, as you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down. Ms. MacLean is a high quality writer and I look forward to read everything she writes. Ms. MacLean, did it again and I highly recommend her book!
MaryGramlich More than 1 year ago
When a Prince is kidnapped one might think it would be by a dangerous group seeking wealth.  For Prince Nicholas his abductor is Veronique Montagne, a gentle and loving woman trying to save what she values most – her family. Nicholas is a noted romancer and tries every trick to seduce Veronique to open the door and set him free, she however is immune to his charms.  Veronique is fighting for her family and the survival of their home while Nicholas is just irritated by his present situation.  When the true reason for his abduction becomes known Veronique realizes the next choice she makes will help or ruin her forever.   The question looms for Nicholas and Veronique of what is really going on, and where can we go from here. The passion surrounds them as they travel to freedom but trust is a whole other part of the equation Veronique is not convinced she has where Nicholas is concerned.  She must get past this if the relationship is to survive and perhaps Nicholas can transform into the man he was destined to be.   Nicholas may have a heavy burden of knowledge he wishes to stay quiet but Veronique is hoping he wants her by his side regardless of which way everything turns out. A book that takes your breath away with each new chapter is one a reader knows can never be parted with.   Julianne MacLean has the magic touch of writing such a book every time she puts pen to paper
Anonymous 5 months ago
The movey is really good to i liked it alot and i think the most funnyest part is when that "biggest guy in the world" just boncs the old laty on the head and she pases out. It is a must read. And the dronk guy is also funny
loverofromance More than 1 year ago
Veronique Montagne is desperate to save her families land, even if she has no choice but to kidnap the Prince of Petersbourg to do it. Veronique's father lost their land in a gambling card game, and she is being forced to kidnap Prince Nicholas. So at a masked ball, she entices the prince into a carriage with her, and she puts a sleeping drought in his drink, and soon he is as helpless as a babe in her carriage. She has no idea why the Marquess wants the prince, but she knows if she has any chance to save her family, she must stay firm, even though she feels a attraction to Nicholas and the last thing she wants is to put him in danger. After a couple of days of Nicholas throwing furniture and threatening her harm, he starts to cajole her, and seduce her with his voice and his warm promises of safety and protection. So she decides that she will risk everything to set him free, but when she does he is furious. Nicholas can hardly believe that he has been kidnapped, and by a beautiful woman no less, a woman he would eagerly bed. Nicholas has a reputation with the women that would rival any mans, however when he sets his eyes on Veronique he is mystified. He can't keep her out of his thoughts or keep his body from responding to her. When a truth of his past comes to light, Veronique is his lifeline and he realizes he would do anything to keep this woman in his life, even marry the woman. But life is about to become more rocky, and only with their love and trust in each other, will they be able to overcome the challenge that could risk everything... The Prince's Bride is the third in the Royal Trilogy. I just love royal love stories, and I found that Julianne Maclean did a fair job with it. The Prince's Bride I would say is the most carefree of the three. It does contain a more serious note to it, but I love the lightness to the story, it wasn't too heavy or smothering at all. In fact I can't believe how fast I breezed through this book, before I knew it the story was over and I felt a little sad since I am pretty sure this is the last installment. I have read quite a bit of Julianne Maclean and this trilogy is my favorite of her works so far. I have been looking forward to Nicholas' story for quite some time, so I couldn't wait to read about how Nicholas surrenders to loves kiss, he is a rake and scoundrel and very wicked. Nicholas is the type of hero that you know you will right away from the first page. I love his nonchalant manner that he portrays, but when you delve deeper into the story, you see a side of him that is far different. Nicholas has suffered from verbal abuse from his father and struggles with his own worth and has for many years. When he meets Veronique, she changes everything including making him believe that there is something redeemable in himself. I loved these two characters together, their relationship a bit rocky, but overall playful and strong and had a hint of sensuality that casts a spell over the reader. Veronique was the type of heroine you just melted into. She is strong, courageous, and has a will of iron and even though she has a passionate nature, but because of the scandal attached to her families name due to her father, she refuses to give into her yearning for Nicholas, wanting to show her family that she won't shame them. It was fun seeing her kidnap the prince, and see them fall pretty quickly in love with each other. It may have been quick, but I didn't feel like it was too rushed, the author coaxes them gently into it, its not all of a sudden, you see it gradually happening, so its not so much of a shock. Overall I couldn't help but fall madly in love with with The Prince's Bride. It contained all the characteristics of a solid romance to appeal to me from page one. A Sparkling romance that delivers...GUARANTEED TO ROMANCE YOU!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Final book in trilogy-great finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unless you want story spoilers, avoid the first two reviews.
Zeeelicious More than 1 year ago
The Story This story is about the rake prince, Nicholas while on a trip to Paris.  He is drugged and kidnapped by a lovely young woman, Veronique during a masquerade, who is under Lord D’Entremont’s bidding in exchange for the deed to her family home that was lost due to her father’s gambling.  Once the Prince is held captive at the estate of Lord D’Entremont, he starts to smooth talk and seduce Veronique into letting him go.  Veronique, on the other hand, tries not to fall for the handsome Prince but she ends up fantasizing about him.  She finally plans to break him out of his prison with the help of her sister Gabrielle, but before they do, Lord D’Entremont arrives and asks to speak to the Prince.  What happens next was something that I did not expect at all.  As it turns out, D’Entremont is Nicholas’ father and he is in fact, a bastard.  Apparently, D’Entremont is dying and wanted to meet Nicholas so that he can tell him in person that he is leaving his properties to him.  Nicholas obtains love letters between his mother and the aging lord and is certain of it’s truth.  Pierre, D’Entremont’s bastard nephew, who has served the lord for years only gets a property in Paris.  Nicholas ends up marrying Veronique and they return to Petersbourg.  Nicholas finally lets the country know about his illegitimacy and they return to D’Entremont’s estate where they have their HEA. My Thoughts I thought the start of the story was very interesting.  I liked Veronique’s spunk and I actually started to fall for prince charming, Nicholas!  I loved the part where they were talking on either side of the door.  Unfortunately, once the big secret was revealed, the story turned out to be very convenient and predictable.  While Nicholas saved Veronique and her family, he didn’t really show her his love.  I thought their love turned out to be pretty superficial. When they returned to Petersbourg, Veronique martyred herself out and was not even angry at Nicholas at all, even when Nicholas didn’t come home at night and when he openly admitted that he was tempted by an ex!  I did like the part where Nicholas was a bit tempted by the females.  I thought that was pretty realistic. The villain Pierre, was pretty tame.  His motives for exposing Nicholas’ secret to the press was not very believable.  It would have been better had he been really evil and had kidnapped Veronique with Nicholas rescuing her.  He did end up rescuing her but the impact was not as great as I hoped it would be. The last part of the story fell a little flat for me.  I will be reading Princess in Love and I hope that one would be better.